“We have not delivered on Brexit… the Tories have let us down very, very badly”. Arch Brexiteer Nigel Farage’s words on Newsnight this week have caused tremors across the UK’s political landscape.
Farage and his party UKIP were hugely prominent and influential in selling Brexit to voters. Scotland didn’t fall for it – but it was forced to leave the EU and now Brexit’s failures are forcing particular hardship on families and businesses north of the Border. If the country was independent, men like Farage would have no role in shaping policy for Scotland.
Brexit pushing prices up and damaging trade
Finally, Farage admitted what is staring everyone in the face – Brexit has failed. From fruit to energy, Brexit has made imports more expensive and pushed prices up across the UK.
A family in France is now 10 percent wealthier than a UK one – in Germany, it’s 20 percent. Living standards in the UK have never been lower by comparison with leading EU countries.
Farage called for deregulation
Interviewed on the BBC News programme, Farage claimed that the reason Brexit has not benefited the UK was because politicians had failed to grasp opportunities offered by deregulation – i.e. getting rid of the ERU’s high standards on worker and environmental protection. That is often referred to as “Singapore on Sea”.
But in fact, the UK has gone down the deregulation road quite far enough for most people – as evidenced by the sewage pouring into England’s rivers and the restarting of cosmetic testing on animals.
Scotland wanted a deal like Northern Ireland
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK still in the single market – is recording a rise in exports to Ireland by 23% and exports to other EU countries are up by 18%.
The Scottish Government repeatedly called for Scotland to have a similar trading arrangement to Northern Ireland, to cushion some of the impact of being dragged out of the single market. However, as all other Scottish Government compromise proposals, these requests were completely ignored and dismissed by Westminster.
Northern Ireland’s booming trade figures highlight the costs that Scotland faces for being removed from the world’s biggest single market.
Scotland is suffering badly from Brexit because:
- It exports double per head what the UK does and so has proportionately more businesses affected
- The Highlands were particularly reliant on the seasonal workforce that freedom of movement provided.
- And the EU gives more support to peripheral areas at the fringe of Europe – the UK is not providing anything like replacement levels of funding.
Loss of access to the single market is even affecting energy
As an EU member the UK was part of the internal energy market regime, which created a single price for energy by automatically balancing the needs between countries using computer algorithms.
But since leaving the EU single market in January 2021, the UK has moved to a back-up system that involves running daily auctions. That alone is adding £1.1bn to bills annually according to analysis by Energy UK, reported in the FT.
Farage’s admission is small consolation – only with independence can Scotland rejoin the EU
Scotland rejected Brexit overwhelmingly – but as part of the UK, Brexit was forced upon it by the majority country. The fact that Nigel Farage has now admitted it is a failure is only a small consolation for all the disruption and misery it has caused. No major UK party is talking about rejoining the EU and the single market.
Only with independence can Scotland rejoin the EU and set its own course on major policy decisions in the future.