Who will suffer economically the worst from Brexit?

Many areas of the UK that voted for Brexit will suffer the most from the economic consequences of leaving the EU. Researchers at the University of Birmingham studied regional variations in the share of labour income and GDP reliant on the EU, and found that areas in the Midlands and north of England, many of which voted for Brexit, had the greatest exposure to possible negative trade-related consequences. The study also appears to contradict claims by the Leave campaign that London benefited the most from EU membership, owing to a reduction in the number of banks – and their employees – in the City of London. Looking at Europe as a whole, the study found that an estimated 2.64% of EU GDP was at risk from Brexit trade-related consequences whereas 12% of UK GDP was at risk.

Some economists think 12% is too pessimistic, but still expects the GDP to drop 8% at least over the next 5 years before it edges up again. This is a big drop. The idea that there are numerous countries out there eager to sign trade pacts is wishful thinking, and there are a number of reasons why a special trade deal with the US is undesirable, and given what the current American government is doing to standards, extremely so. British farmers are in any case extremely vulnerable, all the more so under an American trade deal.

There is no way, in my opinion, that Brexit can enhance British prosperity. Observers are talking about letting the right-wing Tories have their way so that they own the debacle, and look forward to the possibility that, having wrecked the economy, a new vote will see the self-same Tories conclusively out of power, letting the UK once again join the EU. It’s possible.

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