Sunday, June 17, 2018

There is no Brexit dividend

For cynical timing and political manoeuvring, Theresa May must get a gold medal. Her entire premiership has been based on half-baked promises to one group which directly contradict promises made to others, just so that she can live on to fight another day. So far she has been a dab hand at political survival. Today's announcement of zillions of pounds for the NHS at some point in the future, paid for by the alleged "Brexit dividend" is all part of this survival strategy. The reality is that there is no dividend. The sluggish growth in the economy caused by Brexit uncertainty has already cost the UK economy £400 million a week, according to the Bank of England. Then there are all the costs of going it alone - setting up our own drugs, chemicals and nuclear agencies for example or building our own Gallileo project. Then there are the costs of all those extra civil servants the government has taken on to carry out Brexit. Throw in the thousands of new customs officers and the cost of a completely new department - International Trade (which so far has produced nil points in terms of future trade agreements) and once all these new penpushers have been paid, there ain't going to be much left over for more doctors and nurses.

The government could, of course, be much more honest about this and openly admit that any increase in funding to the NHS will come from additional taxation. But don't hold your breath.

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