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The divorce letter

Well, the letter has been sent and we’re on our way out of the European Union for better or worse.

Only  29% think it will be for better according to a survey by  IHS Markit of  British households surveyed in March. In July  2016,  39% of the public believed that leaving the European Union would make Britain’s economy better off.

The share of households that expect economic prospects to worsen has increased from 42% to 53% over the same time period. Eighteen per cent anticipate no change.

The most marked turnaround is evident among the poorest paid, who have switched from being the most optimistic to now being the most downbeat.

This in part can be explained by the increase in inflation that Brexit has caused.

Another report by the  cross-party think-tank Demos say that Wales and Northern Ireland are most vulnerable to the economic risks posed by Brexit. Not surprisingly as both countries rely heavily on EU funding, exports to the EU and, in the case of Northern Ireland, a large number of European workers.

Little wonder then why First Minister Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood are so concerned to ensure that Wales’s access to the single market continue.

But there is a paradox as the YouGov tracker poll which asks “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?” has hardly moved since the vote which still shows as many people saying Yes as No.

What’s the explanation? Voters probably feel that once a democratic decision has been made, it should be respected, however uncomfortable they feel about the decision. It is important to respect “the will of the people” just as it is important to keep a contract even though you regret signing it. In common parlance you cut your nose to spite your face.

But today’s decision fulfills the contract with the people it’s now up to the negotiations. If the deal is not good enough then in a representative democracy we would expect our representatives to reject it and seek a new mandate from the people.




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