Boris Johnson on the Hot Seat: How to avoid crashing out of Europe.

Author:Lachman, Desmond
 
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Following Boris Johnson's recent electoral triumph on a "Get Brexit Done" slogan, the British electorate could be forgiven for believing that the country's drawn-out Brexit saga will soon be behind it. Unfortunately, the electorate is in for a rude shock.

As Prime Minister Johnson's hero Winston Churchill might have put it, Britons will soon learn that they are not at the beginning of the end. Rather they are only at the end of the beginning of the Brexit process. While finally the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has allowed the country to leave the European Union on January 31, 2020, the more difficult and challenging phase of negotiating a permanent economic relationship with the European Union still lies ahead.

Judging by the hard-line position that Johnson's government is adopting in the upcoming negotiations, the British electorate might be in for a ruder shock yet. Far from making the United Kingdom the Singapore on the Thames that has been promised, the electorate might find that all Johnson has to offer is more economic blood, sweat, and tears.

DISAPPOINTING ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

To date, the Brexit process has not been kind to the UK economy. Since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom has moved from the top of the G7's economic growth league table to the bottom. Meanwhile, as a result of heightened political uncertainty and fears that the United Kingdom might crash out of Europe without an economic deal, the country now finds itself on the cusp of an economic recession.

Particularly troubling for the United Kingdom's long-term economic growth prospects has been investor reluctance to invest for fear of a disruption in the United Kingdom's European supply chain. Over the past three and a half years, UK investment has virtually stagnated at a time when European investment has increased by more than 10 percent. It has also not been encouraging that the value of the pound has remained stuck at some 10 percent below its pre-Brexit referendum level as investors have fretted over the state of the UK economy and its balance of payments.

MISTAKES IN WITHDRAWAL NEGOTIATION

With hindsight, it is easy to identify a number of mistakes that the United Kingdom made in negotiating the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. It is also not difficult to see how those mistakes contributed to the economic and political uncertainty that has cost the country's economy so dearly.

Among the more egregious of those mistakes was then-Prime Minister Theresa...

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