Guest post by Kathy Gyngell. This Article first appeared on the i.
It is difficult to believe something is good or going well when everyone around you tells you it’s not; when you are confronted with an unmitigated diet of negative stories whenever you turn on the TV or open a newspaper.
I am talking about Brexit.
From the current negotiations, doomed of course (all the cards are in the EU hands you see) to any post-Brexit Britain scenario – business, trade, travel or the general economy – the message is the same. It’s all a disaster. In fact, the apocalypse is imminent.
Brexit now threatens even our very safety. One snowflake civil servant, terrified of having his “safe” space violated, reports how “it is proving worse than anyone guessed”.
Is it though?Not if you look behind and beyond the headlines.
Against this relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty; of plunging economic prospects (untrue); of collapsing of consumer confidence (untrue); of a drying up of investment (untrue); of job freezes (untrue); of skills shortages because of the ending of free movement (untrue); of the inevitable introduction of tariffs; and of impossible renegotiation (untrue), positive news stories have been, and are consistently, under-reported.
When Brexit good news does crack the surface it is routinely skewed too. “Despite Brexit” reporting is an editorial technique that particular newspapers excel at. Should the UK’s economy prove “resilient”, it is despite, never because of, Brexit. If ever there was a case of cognitive dissonance it’s this method of rationalising every failed gloomy prediction.
Yet there was good news from the start. Within weeks Britain experienced an economic boom; the much-needed depreciation of the pound had an immediate impact on exports and set off a tourism bonanza.
Then no less than 27 countries with a combined GDP of more than £40 trillion – over two-thirds of the global economy – were up for taking advantage of Brexit and striking new trade deals with the UK dwarfing the benefits of the EU’s £12 trillion single market.
Nor did British or international companies succumb to the nervous breakdowns expected. Au contraire.
The US tech giant Amazon doubled down on its commitment to the UK, creating hundreds more highly skilled tech jobs. SoftBank committed to substantial new investment; so too did Google with its development plans for huge new London headquarters.
As for the gloom and doom-mongers who thought the City couldn’t survive without the European Investment Bank, there is no shortage of alternative cash for start-ups. In fact, the rigid approach to venture capital typified by the EIF hindered not helped tech investing. The Channel Tunnel operator is far from the only company to be positive about Brexit – its net profit rose 20 per cent to €30m this last year.
And this week we have had the most bullish CBI Survey of UK manufacturing virtually ever. The volume of output is the highest since January 1999, and total order books are the highest since October 1988. Did we see that in headlines across the press yesterday? I don’t think so.
We didn’t hear it because good news stories like this are not just not widely reported – they are often not reported at all.
Only some defy the rule. The German car manufacturer BMW picked Oxford over Germany and Netherlands to build its new electric Mini. A story hard to ignore.
Demands by Germany’s Free Democrat Party for a special “Brexit cabinet” in Berlin, to safeguard the vital interests of their country, hardly got a mention. Yet the growing alarm among industrial and manufacturing companies there at EU attempts to humiliate Britain is good news for us.
Meanwhile, trade talks have started – Japan is seeking an early deal, and Liam Fox has been impressing free trade advocates in Washington this week. The White House has made it clear it is in US interest to make the deal succeed and has said it will.
In fact the current economic picture in the Britain is “a complete vindication of the Brexit vote” as Britain’s leading investor Jim Mellon – the UK’s answer to the US billionaire Warren Buffett – put it.
The outlook is good. Models of countries thriving through their freedom to trade internationally are not to be found in the EU but outside it.
New Zealand’s success story of reform and liberalisation started when Britain joined the EU in 1973. Now it engages in half of world trade in sheep meat and one-third in dairy products. Its supply chains span the globe.
Singapore, the Asian powerhouse, has averaged a GDP Growth Rate of 6.77 per cent since 1975. It is the perfect model of how Britain can survive and thrive outside the European Union’s customs union.
Such success is only possible if we break free from suffocatingly negative and anti-democratic EU and the shackles of its failed economic environment.
Deep structural flaws remain within the euro and in its big regional imbalances. The 19-country currency zone at the heart of the failing EU project only grew by 0.3 per cent in the last quarter, just half the rate of the UK.
The German banking system will need a bailout soon while the Southern European economies are forced to break the EU’s rules to keep their economies afloat. Yet Brussels profligacy continues to know no bounds.
That’s before we even mention an EU immigration crisis of catastrophic proportions, which its appears the EU has no will or ability to control, and which is spilling over to us. If we stay, their problems will be our problems. We will be well out of it and that is very good news.
It’s time to reject the safe space, terminal fear-of-change disease that drives the negative Brexit news machine.
Kathy Gyngell is co-editor of The Conservative Woman