Leave may be gaining popularity with investors, but Brexit remains a disaster in the making

I am shocked and disappointed with the results of a survey carried out by The Share Centre finding five per cent of personal investors who voted Remain would now vote Leave if the Referendum was held again. I am sorry, but I think they are wrong.

Article updated: 20 June 2018 10:00am Author: Michael Baxter

The world is in danger of destroying itself in an act of self-destruction. The US President, after blaming parents for the way US authorities are separating illegal migrant families, hugged the US flag in front of cameras. I am not sure I have ever found video footage scarier. If you like being scared, don’t watch The Exorcist, just watch the US President defend the unjustifiable.

In comparison, Brexit is more like a vampire flick starring Christopher Lee - almost funny in its kitsch.

But while the Brexit negotiations may seem to have a whiff of comedy about them, they are in fact no laughing matter.

Brexit myths

The Brexit camp won’t release their grip on two myths.

The first myth, the UK economy is strong

In 18-months, the UK economy has gone from being the fastest growing economy in the G7, to the slowest and from one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, to one of the slowest.

In the first quarter of Q1, the UK economy grew by just 0.1 per cent. In the EU, only Estonia and Romania saw slower growth than that. The National Institute of Economics and Social Research projects that in the three months to the end of May, the UK grew by just 0.2 per cent. In short, it looks as if the UK will miss recession by a whisker at a time when the US and EU grew at a respectable pace. Meanwhile, real wage growth went negative within a few months of the Brexit vote. Please, please, don’t say the UK economy is doing just fine.

The second myth

I can hardly believe that the argument is still being made. Despite the weight of evidence, despite the tough line taken by EU negotiators, I keep hearing the same old rhetoric: ‘The EU needs the UK more than the UK needs the EU’. Apologies for shouting, but NO! It doesn’t. The UK sells more of its wares - be they goods or services - to the EU, as a proportion of its GDP, than the EU sells to the UK as a proportion of its GDP. If the UK comes out of Brexit negotiations better off, then the EU loses its reason to exist. It simply must ensure the UK pays a punitive price for Brexit.

Exodus

The evidence of the catastrophic effect Brexit will have on the UK is everywhere. Unilever says it may remove its listing of shares on the London Stock Exchange as it moves its head office to Rotterdam. There are already signs that the loss of passporting rights amongst UK based banks is leading to an exodus of well paid, high tax paying jobs to the EU.

Galileo

Galileo, the EU’s global satellite navigation system, is another example. If the UK is excluded from this, post Brexit, it will be forced to put its hands in its empty pockets and somehow find $10 billion to develop its own system.

Brexit dividend, what dividend

The Share Centre survey found that less than one in five have confidence in the Prime Minister when asked about her ability to deliver a strong Brexit. Well, I too have lost confidence in the Prime Minister. When interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May said that part of the proposed extra funding for the NHS will come from a Brexit dividend. What Brexit dividend is that Prime Minister? If the UK economy is smaller than it would have been had it remained, then the Brexit dividend will be negative. Any money saved through ditching contributions to the EU budget will disappear in a cloud of pixie dust next to the money lost from slower growth.

Impossible

Theresa May’s negotiations may not be going well, but this was always inevitable. Rather than accepting this, the Brexit campaign casts blames on its negotiators.

Thanks

My daughter can say thanks to the EU, she spent a year studying in France, funded by the EU’s Erasmus scheme. Alas, students won’t have that opportunity once we leave, meaning less graduates will have this mind broadening, internationally invigorating, educational foundation.

I would like to say a personal ironic thanks to Brexit, as my dream of living a year or two in Italy in a few years’ time lie in tatters.

Visitors to the NHS will be able to say thanks a bunch to Brexit, when, in a few years’ time, the quality of healthcare is diminished by lack of nursing staff.

A scary place

The world is becoming a scary place. President Trump’s policies are creating massive resentment worldwide. The UN’s approach to human rights has its critics, but without the organisation, human rights across the world will be left devastated. The EU remains the strongest defender of human rights, something the US seems indifferent too, as it pulls out of the UN Human Rights Council.

GDPR is a case in point: the purpose of this regulation is to protect the human right to privacy, something, the current US regime, with its criticism of GDPR, pays scant regard to.
Growing protectionism in the US, is not just a threat to the global economy, it’s a threat to global stability, even peace. The implications for stock markets are obvious.

The UK

At a time when the US behaves like a kid with a bazooka at a party, the UK has cut itself adrift of the world’s best hope for saving human rights.

Survey

While The Share Centre survey found that five per cent of personal investors who voted Remain now support Brexit, the survey also found that two per cent of Leave voters have changed their mind too. For me, the biggest mystery, is why this number isn’t much, much higher.


These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employees

Read the survey results
Michael Baxter portrait photo
Michael Baxter

Economics Commentator

Michael is an economics, investment and technology writer, known for his entertaining style. He has previously been a full-time investor, founder of a technology company which was floated on the NASDAQ, and a director of a PR company specialising in IT.