A "hard Brexit" may be harder on the UK than May realises

Article published on Oct. 13, 2016
Article published on Oct. 13, 2016

Theresa May has doubled down on her commitment to a "hard Brexit" from the European Union, despite the plummeting value of the pound and warnings from the Treasury that the UK could lose around £66 billion per year. But what does a "hard Brexit" mean in practice, and what could the potential consequences be?

Trade gap will break the UK's neck - La Stampa, Italy

The British pound hit a 31-year low on Tuesday, but rose slightly again on Wednesday. La Stampa warns that the British economy will be the main casualty of a hard Brexit:

"Brexiters love to hear the stories about shopping foreigners, and with good reason: the spending of the tourists, their meals and overnight accommodation are helping to keep the British economy afloat. And it's also true that exports have gone up thanks to the weak pound. But that won't be enough. The United Kingdom has a substantial trade deficit... It imports far more than it exports. Under such conditions a weak currency is unfavourable because it drives up the price of imports, boosts inflation and reduces consumer buying power. The export trade can't compensate for all this because it accounts for just a third of Britain's gross domestic product. The rest comes from consumption, investments and other activities that won't benefit from the weak currency." (13/10/2016)

The promise of more sovereignty is an illusion - Rzeczpospolita, Poland

Britain will hardly be able to attain more sovereignty through Brexit, writes Guntram B. Wolff, director of the think tank Bruegel, in a guest commentary for Rzeczpospolita:

“The prime minister has announced that her government will automatically incorporate all EU laws into British legislation. Consequently British law will be identical to EU law once the Brexit is completed... This, however, would mean that Britain must strictly adhere to EU guidelines so as to keep any emerging discrepancies to a minimum... Yet in such a scenario any notion of Britain regaining its sovereignty is just an illusion.” (13/10/16)

May is only making things worse - ABC, Spain

Rather than trying to pour oil on troubled waters May is only adding fuel to the fire, ABC rails:

"The British prime minister apparently still hasn't understood how disastrous the situation of her country is after the Brexit referendum... Her real mission should have been to minimize the potential damage during the transition from EU membership to the uncharted territory her country is heading for. Instead, however, Theresa May has committed to extending and reinforcing the populist nationalism that led the British into this crisis, as if in a belated attempt to justify the result brought about by Ukip. Her announcements about counting the number of foreigners in businesses and schools - which she later reluctantly modified - are indicative of a xenophobia we believed had long since been overcome in Europe." (13/10/16)

The EU will decide what form Brexit takes - The Guardian, UK

EU critics in London are very mistaken if they believe the British government can dictate the terms of its future relations with the EU, the Guardian observes:

"For the many friends and admirers that Britain still has in Europe, these must be trying times. Some of them might have expected the UK to be engaged by now in a serious and wide-ranging debate on how to mend fences with its so-much-bigger brother across the Channel. Instead, Britain is losing itself in delusional grandstanding, talking about itself to itself... The EU will defend its national and continental interests with as much vigour as Britain will. And, since the EU is more than seven times bigger, it will impose its will... Brexit will mean what the EU decides it means." (12/10/16)


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