Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist Kate Thick

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist Kate Thick

Article excerpt

THE pound has plunged to a 30-year low and so have my spirits.

It will be a long, messy divorce. Whatever legal and financial deals are negotiated, it will tie up resources for years to come.

We face economic and political mayhem at a time when the number of working poor is growing due to high house prices (well at least they might fall now), low productivity, austerity and a shortage of full-time jobs.

I am no fan of Tory fiscal policies but the prospect of the likes of Farage, Johnson and Gove taking the helm is terrifying; they will need the advice of the experts they so scorn.

Voters felt the economy did not work for them. The government can only blame itself; you cannot foster alienation without consequences. Westminster was the target as much as Brussels.

The Leave vote was strongest in places like the North East, once heavily industrialised, whose denizens concluded the gamble was worth taking. Well, wave goodbye to the PS2.5bn from the EU Social Fund financing charities and community centres, and the PS2.9bn funding from the EU Regional Development Fund for starting businesses.

Unless economic growth returns quickly after Brexit, there will be many calls on the PS8bn saving from our annual EU contribution which might not prove enough to prevent further deterioration in health and social care. We have splintered the world's largest political union and trading bloc, an $18 trillion economy. It will make less sense now for, say, a Japanese car-maker to locate a factory - one eyeing to sell into Europe - in the North East if you could be in Germany. Why come to post-Brexit Britain where there could soon be the hassle of visas and tariffs? There will be a shift in how we are seen by the rest of the world. The EU's flaws do not justify its destruction which is what we may have just triggered. The UK is the world's fifth-largest economy and has remained one of its most powerful nations, because of EU membership. We risk becoming an offshore oddball.

Who do we entrust with the arduous negotiations over what aspects of the vast edifice of UK entanglement with European law, finance, criminal justice cooperation, trade and diplomacy we unravel, not to mention the constitutional wrangling implicit in Scotland's endorsement of EU membership? …

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