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Johnson doesn’t know what to do with Brexit

Boris Johnson, this Wednesday at a vaccination center. / Reuters

The benefits of the EU march do not come and its damages are now covered by the magnitude of the covid pandemic

The division in the British Conservative Party is the origin of ‘Brexit’ and, a year after its consummation, the political force that has ruled the United Kingdom for the longest time is once again divided. The most radical supporters of the European Union march insist that the future can be wonderful, although they recognize that the beginning is not a bed of roses. And now it can get worse.

British customs officials allowed the entry of goods into their country with little or no control at the beginning of the great change. That ends on January 1, 2022 -that is, on Saturday-, when customs declarations and the origin of the cargo will be required, in addition to the payment of duties when appropriate. In July, sanitary and phytosanitary controls of animals and plants will also be introduced.

The precedent invites us not to be pessimistic. The government’s own auguries about the queuing of thousands of trucks at the approaches to the port of Dover were not fulfilled when the EU established its controls. Most of the UK exporters, Community importers and shippers, particularly large companies, were prepared.


  • 53%
    of Britons believe that Brexit is “going badly” compared to 18% who say otherwise. However, the majority affirm that they would maintain their vote in the 2016 exit referendum.

  • The conflict of shortages.
    The severe shortage that, according to Boris Johnson, was the result of the ‘Brexit’ adjustments shocked British society in October. The lack of carriers left supermarkets and gas stations without supply.

  • David Frost – Former negotiator with the EU.
    “If all we do from now on is import the European social model, we will never succeed”

  • 200.000
    jobs have been lost in the country this year. Even so, the OECD estimates that the United Kingdom will grow 6.9% compared to 6.8% in France or 5.2% on average in the euro zone.

The number of trucks that have crossed the English Channel by ferry is 2.4% lower than in 2020, according to the Port of Dover. The decrease is 6% on Eurostar trains. But, according to John Springford of the Center for European Reform (CER), the British trade in goods has lost between 11% and 16% of its potential this year due to the exit from the common market and the customs union.

Data from the Food and Beverages sector support these figures. Its exports have fallen by 15.7% (-23.7% to the EU) compared to pre-pandemic levels. The Spanish automotive components industry exports 32% less to the UK than it did in 2019. Hundreds of British companies have set up offices in the EU and fewer have moved in the other direction.

The British economy remains attractive. According to the Barometer of Spanish Investment in the United Kingdom, published by the Hispano-British Chamber of Commerce, companies continue to consider it an attractive destination. Reinforcing your innovation is cited as the main motive. Recently, the energy giant Shell has moved its corporate headquarters from Amsterdam to London.

The Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), which analyzes the evolution of public finances, forecasts a potential loss of Gross Domestic Product of 4% in the medium term. The damage of ‘Brexit’ in the economy will be double that caused by the virus and this will have an effect in the short term. But defenders of the EU march are confident of the future.

The ‘Brexit’ promised to save contributions to the EU, now submerged under the enormous spending of the pandemic. The end of freedom of movement is above all an identity issue, but it has aggravated logistical and personnel obstacles in this year’s recovery. The ambition to champion free trade in the world concert, freed from the protectionist limits of the European Union, remains alive.

The latest treaty, signed with Australia, has attracted more attention than others for being the first, after the Cooperation and Trade with the EU, which has been negotiated from scratch. The other seventy are for the most part copies of those that those countries have with Brussels. But the great claim of ‘Brexit’ is a broad agreement with the United States. Neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have prioritized it.

An adverse scenario

The anniversary comes with the vigor of the pandemic on the rise, electoral defeats in conservative fiefdoms and unrest over the apparently illegal meetings that took place in Downing Street in the tense days at the end of 2020. A wide group of MPs criticize the direction of the Government and the “coercive” measures, in the words of the resigned ‘Brexit’ negotiator, David Frost.

Annabel Denham of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), an influential think tank associated with ‘Thatcherism’, warns of the risk that, “once control is regained, politicians use their newfound powers to enlarge the state.” He criticizes “Boris Johnson’s weakness for big, expensive projects.” The ambition is a United Kingdom that departs from the European social market, a “Singapore of the Thames” with fewer regulations and taxes.

The ‘Brexit’ returns to divide the conservatives. An alliance of liberal nationalists, who saw the EU march as the crystallization of Margaret Thatcher’s project, and inhabitants of Labor towns, deindustrialized and degraded in recent decades, made it inevitable by voting for Johnson in December 2019, and breaking thus the blockade of Parliament. The eclectic leader wants to preserve that alliance, with perhaps incompatible aspirations. For ‘The Economist’, Johnson’s problems stem from the stagnation of his Government: “Like any good revolutionary, he believed that intricate problems, such as regional inequality or irregular immigration, could be solved with sheer will.”


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