Economic uncertainty is high as the UK approaches the ostensible date for Brexit. The High Street is suffering, the manufacturing sector is struggling, and consumers are apprehensive. It is common knowledge that any type of Brexit is likely to be inflationary. The fluctuations of the pound have caused consternation already. But Brexit is all about priorities. In the first instance, Brexit is about garnering support for the flagging Conservative Party. However, it is also about resolving the relationship between the UK and the EU. The ‘dismal science’ of economics does not really get a look in.
Reversing things is always really difficult. It is impossible to recreate the British economy that existed before the country signed up to the European project. Leaving a gym is different from joining one. Lamenting Brexit is understandable, but blocking it is awkward for political reasons.
Many people know that Leave voters were misled. However, Leave voters feel frustrated. They do not accept that they were manipulated in the first place. Largely, Remainers have failed to empathise with the victors of the second referendum on Europe. Tribalism set in early, and the patronising tone adopted by many Remainers has been alienating.
Identity was at the heart of the Brexit vote. A coalition of the too-wealthy-to-care and the too-disenfranchised-to-know was formed. Despite some concerns about a lack of competence, the Conservative Party has kept this alliance together. Information about inflation is not changing the minds of the people.
There is also the issue of the sluggish economic performance of the European Union. Countries like Italy are struggling, while discontent in France is simmering. These inconvenient truths are weakening the argument of Remainers.
Nor has the chaos in Venezuela helped the European cause. Calls for regime change have not been confined to the United States. Regardless of the complexity of the social catastrophe in Venezuela, it is a really bad look for European bureaucrats to weigh into a situation that can only be resolved via dialogue.
Economics is a discipline that is better at informing the elite than the public. Ordinary people are prone to view a national economy as being similar to that of a household. This ignorance means that individuals can be tempted to support parties which will not deliver a reasonable living standard to them in the long-term.
Brexit is developing a faith-based narrative. Instead of focusing on pounds and pence, Leavers are attacking political correctness and defeatist thinking. This sort of discourse relates to American politics, in as much as it points towards a culture war.
Although a plethora of economists want to intervene in Brexit, a lot of the population has switched off. There is a pervasive desire to get on with it. People do not think about what the agenda is based on. This is because we live in a society where politics is discussed in a superficial way. For example, the BBC has demonstrated that many Cornish voters are not conscious of the hit that their region could well receive. The European settlement included supporting lagging areas, but the revenue did not secure loyalty.