It’s been three years since the United Kingdom made the bold decision to leave the European Union, and it’s fair to say that things haven’t exactly gone as planned. The UK’s economy has taken a hit, public opinion has soured, and the country’s relationship with its neighbours has become increasingly strained.
But how are things going in 2023? Let’s take a look.
One of the main selling points of Brexit was the promise of new trade deals with countries around the world. So far, the UK has managed to strike agreements with several nations, including Japan, Canada, and Australia. These deals have been hailed as a success by the government, who have touted them as evidence that the UK can thrive outside the EU.
However, critics have pointed out that these agreements are not as beneficial as the ones the UK had as part of the EU. For example, the deal with Japan only covers a fraction of the trade that was covered by the EU-Japan deal. Furthermore, the UK has yet to strike a deal with the United States, which was supposed to be a top priority.
One of the most contentious issues surrounding Brexit was immigration. The UK government promised to take back control of its borders and reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country. In 2023, it’s clear that these promises have been kept. The UK has implemented a new points-based system for immigration, which has made it more difficult for low-skilled workers to come to the UK.
This has had a negative impact on sectors such as agriculture and hospitality, which rely heavily on migrant workers. Some have argued that the government should re-evaluate its immigration policies to ensure that these industries can continue to function.
As if to underline this, we’ve also just seen the entire furore around Gary Lineker vs the BBC, where Lineker compared the government immigration policy and rhetoric to Nazi Germany. It’s fair to say that he was actually accurate in his observations and that the Tory governments treatment of migrants has been cruel and excessive. Looking at the partnership with Rwanda, where immigrants are shipped off to the African nation as part of a plan to put immigrants off coming to the UK, this is compared to the worse aspects of American and Australian immigration policies.
Trade with the EU
Perhaps the most significant impact of Brexit has been on trade with the EU. The UK’s decision to leave the single market and customs union has resulted in new barriers to trade, such as customs checks and tariffs. This has made it more difficult and expensive for UK businesses to export to the EU, and has led to a decline in trade.
According to the latest figures, UK exports to the EU fell by 14.5% in 2022. This has had a significant impact on the UK economy, with some industries, such as fishing and manufacturing, particularly hard hit. The government has promised to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU, but progress has been slow.
Finally, it’s worth considering how public opinion has changed since Brexit. According to a recent YouGov poll[^2], 53% of Brits now believe that leaving the EU was the wrong decision, compared to 47% who believe it was the right decision. This represents a significant shift in public opinion since the referendum in 2016.
In addition to this, the actions of the Tory government have consistently undermined much of the integrity of the UK government as an institution. And Brexit has been a never-ending source of friction, challenges and disagreements.
In conclusion, it’s clear that Brexit has had a significant impact on the UK economy and public opinion. While the UK has managed to strike some new trade deals, these have not been as beneficial as the ones it had as part of the EU. The immigration policies have made it more difficult for some industries, and trade with the EU has declined. Finally, public opinion has shifted against Brexit, with many now regretting the decision to leave the EU.