How Brexit is worsening the economic and social crisis in the UK

DANIEL LEAL / AFP A demonstrator holds a sign reading ‘Enough is enough’ as ​​he attends a rally organized by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) in support of striking Royal Mail postal workers in Parliament Square in central London in December. 9, 2022. – The Communications Workers Union says the vast majority of postal workers have voted for more strikes this year and next year, affecting deliveries and post office hours in the run-up to Christmas. Formerly state-owned Royal Mail recently announced it would cut up to 10,000 jobs, citing the move in part to employee strikes that led to a first-half loss. (Photo by Daniel LEAL/AFP)


For several months, the strikes have paralyzed the UK, which is suffering from high inflation. Here in London on 9th December 2022.

INTERNATIONAL – Railroad workers, teachers, customs workers and paramedics, nurses are preparing to go on a protest dance this Wednesday, January 18. A strike movement in Great Britain, which began a few months ago to improve wages, has now covered almost all sectors of activity and threatened to paralyze the country.

It must be said that two years after the implementation of Brexit, there is no economic growth that was promised far from the shackles of the European Union. Inflation is at 11% for the year, GDP fell by 0.3% in the third quarter of 2022, and according to the Bank of England, the United Kingdom has entered a recession that is expected to continue into 2023. C It is also the only one. The G7 country has not yet recovered its pre-pandemic GDP.

“It is clear that Brexit affects the current crisisAurelien Antoine, director of the Brexit Observatory and professor of law at the University of Saint-Etienne. It is not easy to leave 50 years of very strong, integrated relations with a supranational organization like the EU. When a relationship is close and permanent, how do you expect it to be simple? »

Waste of money and time

For example, “Brexit reduced UK foreign trade by 10-15% compared to the no-Brexit scenario”King’s College London economist Jonathan Portes told AFP. “Additional documentation and checks, new rules, customs duties…Aurélien Antoine explains. All this leads to additional costs and loss of time in all economic areas. »

Catherine Mathieu, an economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions, refuses to point out that Brexit is responsible for all the woes. “Looking at other European countries, price increases in the UK are comparable to those seen in Germany. those nuances. In Eastern Europe, inflation has even reached 20%. This is due to rising energy prices, not Brexit. Only countries that have implemented tariff barriers, such as France, are protected. »

However, two experts agree that Brexit is responsible for labor shortages, making immigration more difficult for Europeans. In 2021, this shortage of transport workers – combined with the Covid-19 crisis – has led to supply problems in supermarkets and service stations, for example.

The NHS is on the verge of a nervous breakdown

It is the healthcare sector that is suffering today. If tensions were already present before Brexit, the situation has worsened. Health according to research by the Nuffield Trust think tank watchman, 37 thousand doctors work in the country. They would have been 41,000 without Brexit, meaning a shortage of 4,000 specialists: anaesthetists, psychiatrists, paediatricians…

“Is Brexit the root of all the UK’s problems right now, of course not” nevertheless, it accepts Aurélien Antoine as its author Brexit. English story. He cites the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine as reasons for rising energy and food prices, although he admits that “ It is difficult to say what part of the responsibility war, Covid and Brexit have in the current crisis.

Catherine Mathieu also highlights the impact of the policies of the Conservatives in power since 2010: “They put forward the goal of reducing the government deficit, which involves reducing spending, not increasing taxes. The public health system has been suffering from government austerity for a decade. »

65% of Britons want to return to the EU

“In addition to this, there is also the pandemic, during which there was a high demand for caregivers and their working conditions worsened. Logically, with today’s high inflation, they are demanding a higher wage increase than the 5% promised at the beginning of 2022.the economist continues.

“It’s the same in transport: truck drivers are forced to accept more difficult working conditions without wage compensation,” he points. According to him, this explains the tightening of negotiations and the strong mobilization of these two sectors in the current historic strikes.

It was in this tense context that a survey was published by the newspaper at the beginning of January Independent Two-thirds (65%) of Britons support the idea of ​​a new referendum to return to the EU, it has revealed. They were 55% a year ago. “Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe based on alignment with EU law.”In November 2022, Prime Minister Rishi had evacuated Sunak.

Therefore, the British should expect Brexit to show its positive effects. “The mistake Brexiteers made during the campaign was to say it would be great immediately”Aurélien Antoine emphasizes. “Logically, it has negative effects and it is very difficult to say for the future. It took years for the UK to feel comfortable in the EU. It will take years for the UK to get used to living outside. »

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