INCOMPETENCE seems to have spread beyond the Government to Parliament as a whole — the fact that they simply cannot make a decision is extraordinary.
Whether you believed in Remain or Leave, the only way to retain a negotiating position was to make sure, in a calm and quiet way, that the UK would take all the necessary preparations for leaving without a deal.
Evening Standard The entire political class is missing the point about Brexit, writes Mervyn King
We could then tell our partners in Europe that, if the deal they offered to us was not acceptable, we had a fall-back position.
But those preparations were not made. The Government took a conscious decision and the Chancellor was very explicit that he was not prepared to spend money in making those preparations.
That was a disastrous decision. I think, if we had done that, then the position today would look very different.
My preference would be to go back to Europe and say we have a clear strategy — to leave without a deal but to take six months or so to complete the preparations.
Then we would be in a much stronger position.
If we were to leave without making adequate preparations there would be some short-run dislocation cost. It is hard to know how serious that would be but I think the view that somehow we will have queues of lorries on the M20 for five years or more is absurd.
The important thing is, that, with adequate preparations, I do not believe the long-term economic costs of leaving would be very different from staying in the European Union.
But the issue should not be just about economics.
I wonder if MPs had a collective nervous breakdown
One of the sad things about this whole debate is that the country has become deeply divided.
People on both sides are passionate about it but they are not passionate because they have views about the economic effects.
I have not met anyone who said, “I’d be in favour of Brexit if I thought the impact on GDP will be less than two per cent but I’ll be in favour of Remain if I thought it would be more than five per cent”.
It is the issues of identity and culture and politics that are motivating people, which is why I think MPs have somehow lost the plot.
When people say the consequence of leaving without a deal is national suicide, I despair. I wonder sometimes if the political class has suffered a collective nervous breakdown and lost confidence in the country.
One of the odd things about our debate is that you would think people would be debating what is going on in the European Union.
Is it a club that we want to be a member of? Where is it going in the future?
We have heard almost nothing about that.
The European Union faces terrible challenges of its own, which is what it would like to concentrate on.
All the major countries in the EU, apart from us, are in the monetary union.
The challenge of making the monetary union work is the big headache for the European Union. They do not have any answers.
Those economic challenges have led to disaster in Greece. GDP in Italy is no higher today than it was 20 years ago when it joined the monetary union.
These are dreadful outcomes for the monetary union. Do we really want to be in a club that accepts such outcomes?
Of course, some people want to be in a federal Europe. It’s a reasonable point of view, though not one I subscribe to.
But that is what we should be debating not exaggerating the economic consequences of the alternatives.
I do not think it is obvious that jobs in Britain would be lost if we left the EU.
Look at what has happened since the vote to leave when we were told there would be a recession.
Since mid-2016 our economy has grown by slightly more than Germany’s.
The idea that voting for leave has been an economic disaster does not match facts.
Universal News & Sport (Europe) Incompetence seems to have spread beyond the Government to Parliament as a whole, adds our columnist
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One of the things that many people find surprising is that the average value of sterling against other currencies is exactly the same this week as it was the day I left the Bank of England nearly six years ago. Financial markets have not panicked and businesses have carried on.
We should all be more confident in our country and our future prosperity.
Forget the scare stories and focus on the question: Do you, or do you not, want to be in the political club that is the European Union?
Brexit chaos as MPs reject PM’s EU withdrawal agreement for a third time by 344 votes by 286 – a majority of 58