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Telegraph: I pity the Remainers who still cling to Project Fear. They grow more desperate every day

Date: 03 04 2017

I pity the Remainers who still cling to Project Fear. They grow more desperate every day

SIMON HEFFER

hose morbidly fascinated by political psychology have had a riveting week. Triggering Article 50 has caused prominent Remainers desperate grief. A period of denial has now, for all but a few hopeless cases – the absurd Tim Farron, who leads what is left of the Liberal Democrats, and his bleating, arrogant, fatuous predecessor Nick Clegg – ended. Instead, since most Remainers know they can’t stop the process, they say it will be apocalyptic.

Not only are current politicians doing this (with Scottish Bolshevists such as Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond announcing catastrophe too) but also long-dead ones, such as dear old Michael Heseltine (increasingly a reminder of the need for proper social care) and “Chris” Patten, after whose catastrophic BBC chairmanship a longer period of silence would have been respectful. Because they have been wrong about the EU – wrong about its economic success, wrong about its political cohesion, wrong about it as a bulwark against external enemies (ask Ukraine) and, fundamentally, wrong about its popularity with hundreds of millions who suffer its malign consequences – they now must predict, and urge, failure. For if Britain doesn’t implode, they will have been utterly pointless.

A new Policy Exchange report, by two Cambridge economists (Graham Gudgin and Ken Coutts) and two from Ulster University (Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan) has interesting findings for those of us bored witless by the continuation of the idiotic Project Fear, the bouquet of lies used to try to bully us into voting Remain, which ended the political careers of David Cameron and trainee journalist George Osborne.

Of the Treasury, the IMF and the OECD it states baldly that “their pessimistic short-term forecasts have, thus far, been proved largely wrong”, but adds that “their long-term assessment that Brexit will be economically damaging remains important and still widely believed.”

Whether that belief – the mantra of the Heseltines, Pattens, Farrons, Cleggs, Salmonds and Sturgeons – is remotely justified occupies the report. It attacks the Treasury model used to forecast a collapse in trade by saying that “nowhere does the Treasury attempt to measure the impact of EU membership specifically on UK trade.” Yet the rubbish Mr Osborne and those who clung to his coat-tails spouted, and which some continue to spout, was founded on the idea that it had. It also says there is “virtually no mention of the fact that the share of UK exports going to the EU has been falling rapidly since the eurozone was formed in 1999.”

The economists cite another report, from Oxford, showing that the “share of UK exports going to the EU would, even without Brexit, have fallen to a same level in 2030 as the Treasury suggest it will as a result of Brexit.” This is wildly at odds with the lies routinely broadcast that most of our trade is done with the EU and businesses would be ruined when we leave.

Any loss of exports will, they conclude, be “quite small”; and they note that the Treasury suppositions seem based on a notion that, having lost the EU as an export market, our businesses would struggle to find markets elsewhere.

They might have added that there appears to be an assumption that EU nations will stop buying our goods; which they won’t, because they desperately need us to buy theirs. The Treasury also ignored the cut in corporation tax to 17 per cent and the benefits to exporters of a lower exchange rate, especially in the dollar zone.

And, given new migration controls, the report concludes that “per capita GDP is predicted to be higher by 2030 as a result of Brexit as slightly less GDP is shared among a smaller population.” The economic impact will, they say, be “small”. Those of us who do not expect a slight fall in GDP by 2030 might perhaps take issue with that: nevertheless, the upshot of this report is that those who continue to predict economic disaster from Brexit are, quite simply, wrong.

Even since Wednesday, when Mrs May wrote her magnificently crafted letter to Donald Tusk to announce our departure, the wind has started to change. Mr Tusk himself has said the terms the EU will seek will not be punitive, because he claims we have punished ourselves enough by the act of leaving. What he means is that they won’t be punitive because the EU, with its massive annual trade surplus with the UK, must continue to trade with us rather than force us to rack up tariffs against it.

In a grandstanding stunt as predictable as it was fatuous, Nicola Sturgeon fired off a letter demanding another independence referendum. She is too obtuse to see the spectacular irony of wanting to leave an economy that is, and will remain, more successful than almost all others in Europe – or that the real economic damage to Scotland, through its failed banking sector and its reliance on unrealistic expectations of the oil price, was done during its EU membership.

We must, above all, look at what sort of EU we shall leave. Never mind the rise of Marine Le Pen, who even if she loses the French election will change the debate in European politics, or the fact that Greece cannot be bailed out indefinitely. In Italy, the Five-Star Movement and the Lega Nord are discussing a coalition that could put them in power. Lega Nord have said the first step would be to leave the euro – something their putative finance minister has said would not be the end of Italy’s problems, but the beginning of their end. If Italy did leave, it would also be the beginning of the end of the EU as we know it.

We are well shot of this corrupt, anti-democratic, failing organisation. We are about to have the chance to rule ourselves and make our fortune in a wider world. Pity those who speak only for themselves and their narrow bigotries, rather than for the British people: the pain of their failure is real, and is likely to be permanent.

April 2nd, 2017: Telegraph