David Daniels’ letter in last week’s Observer has reinforced my belief that the balance of advantage would have been for the UK to remain a member of a grouping we were striving to join when I was helping to promote British trade in France nearly 50 years ago. Even persuasive leavers like Barry Jones have done little to allay my fears.
Mr Daniels could have added that the leave vote may well lead to the restoration of a hard border in Ireland threatening the hard won peace on that island; it could threaten the integrity of the UK by encouraging Scotland to press again for independence; it may well diminish the premier status of the City of London in global financial services adding to the gap in our balance of payments; it will mean that the many companies wanting to trade with continental Europe will have to do so on terms they no longer have any way of influencing and possibly across restored tariff barriers; it could reduce the amount of foreign inward investment available to us if investors no longer enjoy tariff free access to a much bigger market than the UK alone; it will import inflation; it could starve companies in certain industries of the labour they need; it diminishes the counterweight the UK provided to major power domination of European affairs; and while Brussels may no longer tell us what to do, there are other organisations to which we belong which will.
There is no certainty about some of these risks. We must hope that our government successfully manages them in the mind-bogglingly tortuous negotiations that lie ahead, building on the pluses.
But for the moment it looks to me as though the UK has shot itself in the foot.
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