According to the most thorough study so far, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will reduce average income per head in Britain by 6.4%. It will cost you about £1300 a year if your income is £20,000.
That’s not as bad as “no-deal” (8.1%). It is worse than Theresa May’s deal (4.9%), and of course a lot worse than Remain.
The bad economic impact comes from the barriers to trade and the barriers to immigration. Immigration, which mainly brings in young and energetic workers, boosts economic growth.
That is not the worst of it. Boris Johnson’s prime alternative to the economic integration which Britain currently has with Europe is economic deals with Donald Trump’s USA.
Even if he gets those deals, and he may not, that means “level playing field” arrangements for trade which “level” Britain with the USA’s regime of gross inequality, poor public services, few workers’ rights, and life based on cut-throat capitalist competition.
That too is not the worst of it.
The EU citizens in Britain — people who have lived here as equals, often for decades, contributing, voting in local elections, enriching our culture — are currently applying for “settled status”. Almost half of them, now, are being refused and given only more insecure “pre-settled” status.
Their friends and family members who want to come here will be barred. Or, on the Tories’ proposals of earlier this year, they will be allowed in only with 12-month “work visas” and then have to wait another 12 months before applying for another spell.
Scarily, Johnson’s Home Secretary Priti Patel says she wants to “end free movement once and for all”! Once and for all! She longs for a meaner, nastier Britain where refugees or just people wanting a better life — like Patel’s parents when they came from Uganda — have the door slammed in their face. Forever.
And British people who want to work, study, or retire in Europe will be unable to do that, or able to do it only insecurely.
Worse again. Economic, social, and intellectual life long outgrew national borders. Either countries cooperate and integrate, or they pit themselves against each in competition to attract multinational investment and to gain economic hinterland which they can dominate.
The competitive road led to two World Wars in Europe in the 20th century. The EU is a messy, bureaucratic, half-botched step, but a step along the road of cooperation and integration.
The climate emergency makes it urgent to go forward to more, better, and more democratic cooperation and integration.
We can fix the climate emergency only by agreeing rules and plans which cover whole continents, at least. Going for a world where countries will compete to attract multinational investment by offering laxer environmental rules than their neighbours will bring disaster.
Boris Johnson’s deal differs from Theresa May’s in loosening the promises to keep some approximation to EU standards on workers’ rights and environmental standards.
It also differs in drawing a customs border in the Irish Sea, between Northern Ireland and Britain.
Johnson first tried to draw his customs border inside Ireland, between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. A big majority in Ireland, both sides of the border, oppose the recreation of a “hard border” there. Johnson had to back down.
A new border in the Irish Sea is not good, either. A united Ireland would be progress. It is more likely to be achieved if the whole of both Ireland and Britain are within the EU.