Michael Gove’s infamous pre-referendum declaration that the public were “sick of experts” was leaped upon by his opponents, and ridiculed as an admission that, what turned out to be the most Britons that have ever voted for anything, were unwilling to listen to reason. The received wisdom being that silly Brexit fans were simply allowing their emotions to get the better of them, and would surely come to their senses when it mattered. As if voting for liberty was entirely irrational, and the great unwashed should do as they’re jolly well told. Gove’s point was not about all experts, of course, but specific to those of the dismal science, a notoriously complicated field with a history of wildly inaccurate predictions.
A parallel to the challenges of economic forecasting and that of the meteorological persuasion, was recently made by Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, as he admitted that exaggerated Brexit warnings were akin to the BoE’s “Michael Fish moment” after they failed to predict the global crash of 2008. He added that there was a “disconnect” between politically motivated warnings about Brexit and the current state of the markets, adding that the worst predictions may turn out to be “just scare stories”. Mark Carney has since added to this by signalling that forecasts for the UK economy may be raised again, confirming that Brexit is no longer the biggest risk to stability, and suggesting that the EU has more to lose from a Hard Brexit than Britain does.
Further weight to this admission has been added by research conducted at the University of Cambridge, highlighting that projections were based on a “flawed application of a fairly controversial technique”, after the Treasury “stopped asking questions” as soon as they had the answers that they were looking for. At best, evidence of confirmation bias; at worst of a deliberate contortion, designed to mislead the voting public. The report goes on to show that the core assumptions on which long term projections were based, were even more suspect. Arguing that “it was a serious weakness of the Treasury report that almost no evidence of the record of UK trade with the EU was included in the analysis”.
As Douglas Carswell wrote in his recent blog submission, “Experts still overlook the prospect of scrapping trade barriers with the world beyond the EU, or cutting the burden of EU regulation on small business. Pundits still can’t tell the difference between membership of the single market and access to it. Ultimately, many members of the ruling elite can’t get their head around the fact that trade is organic and self-organising – and doesn’t require centralised orchestration by people like them. They’re heading for a rude awakening”
These revelations have been a long time coming. Since the referendum in June, the British economy hasn’t just surprised the naysayers by remaining stable, but has outperformed the rest of the developed world. We can currently boast, high employment, low inflation, and strong overall growth, as manufacturing and construction industries flourish, retailers celebrate bumper sales figures, and living standards continue to improve.
Throughout 2016 we had to endure a tickertape of negative news, all being bundled up into the histrionic notion that, it was the “worst year ever!”. It patently wasn’t. George Michael’s passing on Christmas day was obviously sad, as was the loss of several other greats throughout the year; but the idea that it was comparable to the genuine devastation of natural disasters, widespread disease, or economic collapse of yesteryear, is nonsense. The hyperbole suited the narrative though, as mourning Remoaners sought to conflate the entirely separate phenomenon of finding themselves on the losing side of a referendum and famous people dying. A trend that was perfectly encapsulated by a Sgt. Pepper poster, photoshopped to include every high-profile celebrity death along with a flowery ‘BREXIT’ funeral tribute.
The hand-wringing has continued into the New Year, as the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, our (now former) EU ambassador, was reported as a devastating blow. This meant with absolute certainty, that we are doomed – doomed I tell ya! The ‘no plan’ conspiracy was proven beyond doubt and our chances of achieving a half-acceptable deal had gone forever. The only option now, must be to call the whole thing off and remain in the EU. It took less than a day for those fears to be allayed. The vacant post was immediate filled by Tim Barrow, a Brexit Ministry insider, as it transpired that Rogers’ exclusion from the initial Brexit preparations was because his Europhile face just didn’t fit. Apparently, David Davis would rather have his own man in the EU’s camp, than an EU fan in his.
Until the day we leave we can expect remoaners will seize any opportunity to undermine the process. Whether it be court cases, celebrity deaths, diplomats resigning, hard-ball warnings from EU leaders, or Jamie Oliver failing to sell overpriced food; literally anything negative can carry the “because of Brexit” tag, while anything positive is preceded by “despite Brexit”. Any shred of evidence that our economy is faltering, will be gleefully announced in a desperate attempt to restore the waning credibility of the pre-referendum scaremongers. In the face of persistent pessimism, we must do what Brits do best; keep calm and carry on!
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty