We agree that the European Union is an important trading partner for the UK. We agree that services are important to the UK economy, that services exports are too, even those to the EU. However, we really are also pretty sure that we'd all be better served by the commentariat - today's example being Polly Toynbee - being a little more informed on these subjects:
But take the other mammoth in the room: to escape the free movement rule, the plan omits services from any trade deal – and that casts 80% of our economy to the winds, a hard Brexit by any account.
Services are 80% of the total economy. International trade is not 80% of the economy. In fact, services exports (the only part to be affected by Brexit, we can do whatever we like about imports of them once out of course) are perhaps 8% of the economy. That's gross services exports too. Of which about half goes to the EU.
Yes, certainly, 4% or so of GDP is an interesting number. But it ain't 80%, is it?
The 26 million people working in British services create a massive £28bn-a-year trade surplus with the EU,
Again, eyeballing the percentages, but 2% of GDP is an interesting number, not an economy defining one. And of course the 26 million are not working in service exports, they're working in services, the vast majority of which are - in common with every other large economy - domestic in both production and consumption.
They know the EU will never allow a single market deal on goods without services. How often must they repeat that the EU’s four freedoms of goods, capital, services and labour are indivisible?
Well, yes, except that that single market in services is, to put it as politely as possible, as yet an unfinished work in progress, not something that entirely and wholly exists today.
Please do note that the above is not an expression of our opinion. Now is it to insist that Brexit should happen, nor the manner in which it should. It's rather an insistence that those who would pronounce on it really have a duty to know more about it. As with the economy more generally - ignorance isn't a good starting point for a chain of evidence nor logic.
As to opinions, we have 'em. Polly tells us of this:
Patrick Minford CBE, former Thatcher adviser and leader of Economists for Brexit, is willing to spell out to me what Brexit politicians dare not. Their goal is no tariffs, no barriers, no regulations, open free trade with the world. That, he claims, cuts 20% off food prices in tariffs and roughly the same again in removing all regulatory barriers. What of food quality? As long as it’s labelled, let the consumer decide. What of farmers bankrupted by cheap imports? Big farmers will do more efficient biotech farming (GM, etc); small inefficient farmers will go to the wall or be paid to protect the environment.
What of manufacturing, facing a tidal wave of cheap, imported, unregulated goods? That’s an insignificant 10% of our economy, so let cheaper countries do the “metal bashing”, as we import cheaper cars: we will do high-value intellectual work. And what of all those “metal-bashing” jobs? Here he uses a favourite phrase: the “reallocation of labour”, just like all those “reallocations” of the 1980s on which he advised Thatcher, when unproductive mines, steel works and shipyards closed. Look, he says, over those years most of the 35% employed in manufacturing have been “reallocated”, with a growth in city financiers, consultants and all other services. But what of the people and the places destroyed in the process?
Yes, he admits, the 1980s was a “big shock”, but it rid us of “hopelessly uncompetitive” industries. That’s what unilateral open free trade would do again, clearing out overprotection from global competition with, he claims, a huge economic boost. Short-term pain means long-term gain: a second coming of Thatcher’s 1980s.
That’s the vision that dare not speak its name among Brexiteer MPs – for good reason.
As an aside, we'd note that the clearing out is what moved people into those services which export so much that even Ms. Toynbee is impressed.
But as to not speaking its name - we agree thoroughly with Minford here. It's all rather the point of Brexit itself in fact, that we can go and do all of those things which will make the economy so much larger, make our children so much richer. That is, the point of leaving the European Union is so that we can stop doing all the things they insist upon, all the things which progressively impoverish those who will come after us, and make the lives of the little ones so much better. Yes, absolutely, Brexit is for the children.