Brexit anniversaries are more a wake than a celebration, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has said.
Cable’s remark comes as this month is the first anniversary of the UK’s signed deal with the EU, and the second birthday of the “getting Brexit done” winning general election promise from the Tories.
But a recent survey by Opinium revealed 60 per cent of UK people think Brexit is going “badly”, with 42 per cent of Leave voters having reached the conclusion.
Brexit’s full impact is yet to hit
In an article for The Independent, Cable wrote: “Some expected Brexit to bring immediate benefits, such as more money for the NHS, and more, better-paid jobs freed up by departing Poles.
“Others regarded the economic agenda as irrelevant to fundamental principles around sovereignty: ‘taking back control’ of borders and laws.
“For those in the last group, Brexit is already a success because it happened, and regardless of its consequences, it restored their trust and confidence that government would deliver what they voted for.”
But, whilst acknowledging the strength of the good feeling among Leave voters that Brexit happened, Cable highlighted trust in the very same Tory government that delivered it has dropped among Brexiteers – to 53 per cent now supporting the party.
Cable then focused his attention on the several figures showing Brexit’s negative impact on UK trade, whilst highlighting the bad hit experienced by UK musicians and the lack of post-Brexit protection for Britain’s financial services.
He added: “The full economic impact of Brexit is only just beginning. Many of the border checks and inspections set up to police the common standards and regulations of the EU single market are yet to be implemented. And so far, there has been little move from the UK side to diverge from the standards of the EU.
“The biggest ‘successes’ of Brexit so far have been to negotiate the unchanged “cutting and pasting” of trade agreements with non-EU trade partners.
“Therein lies a paradox that troubles many Brexiteers: if ‘success’ is avoiding the costs of divergence, why did we leave in the first place?
Liz Truss ‘to choose between national interest and nationalistic politics’
“There has been one single, concrete step to demonstrate Britain’s new independence: establishment of immigration control over EU workers, governing their admission under a points-based immigration system. The consequence has been labour shortages, especially of lorry drivers. A shortage of seasonal fruit and flower pickers now looms.”
Cable concluded his reflection by suggesting close European cooperation is the best solution out of the Brexit chaos – but that it will depend on whether the new Brexit secretary, Liz Truss, will act in the national interest rather than in a nationalistic manner pleasing the “gut prejudices of the small club of geriatrics who make up the Tory party membership.”
“Since the latter is the electorate that chooses the next leader of the Conservative Party and the prime minister, she – like Boris Johnson in 2016 – will find herself choosing between statesmanship and political success,” Cable said.
Related: Leavers increasingly unimpressed by Johnson’s Brexit deal, poll shows