Acceptance is growing that Brexit is a source of considerable harm to the UK. Even among supporters of leaving who remain committed to their cause, there is recognition of serious problems connected to this project. The most malign outcomes to have manifested themselves include:
- The loss for the UK population of the numerous rights and advantages that came with European citizenship;
- Compromising of the international credibility and external influence of the UK, and increasing isolation from long-term allies;
- Domestic political disruption and the rise of populist tendencies at UK governmental level;
- Destabilisation in the UK constitution;
- Increased tension and uncertainty for Northern Ireland and the Peace Process;
- The introduction of barriers to trade in goods and services with the EU, including increased regulatory burdens for business;
- Contributing to or restricting the ability of the UK to respond to various economic challenges such as inflation and labour shortages;
- Challenges for the UK financial; creative; research; agricultural; fishing and other sectors;
It is hard to conceive of a more damaging single decision taken in the UK or any other comparable state. These harms, moreover, are not one-off events, but cumulative in nature. While Brexit persists, they will continue to grow. More difficulties can be expected to join them – for instance, more barriers to the operation of the UK financial sector; and the impact of the delayed full controls on imports from the EU, if and when they are imposed. Relations with the EU and its member states, and perhaps the United States are set to deteriorate further as a consequence of the approach being taken to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Such a turn of events would entail more political damage, and possibly economic harm, were a trade dispute to develop. Furthermore, significant tangible benefits that might offset these detriments are lacking. Some claims – about vaccines and enhanced autonomy in foreign policy – are misleading; while others – involving, for instance, imperial measurements – are simply risible.
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