Delivered as part of ‘Regulatory Pathologies: Diagnosis and Remediation‘, Annual Westminster Conference 2018
Brexit is an astonishing phenomenon, a huge change in trade policy not based on trade or economic considerations. In theory, Brexit could mean any one of a spectrum of economic arrangements, from something like EU membership to simple reliance on WTO rules. Broadly, the more like the EU, the less the new arrangements would please Leavers, and the less the harm to the UK economy. Brexit is irrational, in the sense that it is not even an example of selfish lobbying for protectionism for a particular interest group, or even on an incorrect or short-sighted view of the UK’s economic weaknesses. Leavers had no concept in common of what they wanted, they did not even agree on what they disliked. Only one real economic advantage has been identified, the possibility of importing cheap food. This is not often mentioned by Leavers, since it would harm UK farmers.