First published by Reaction Life on 24 April
520,000 unemployed, 3.6% drop in GDP and a 12% fall in the pound. This was George Osborne’s grim version of Britain after a Leave vote. In a now infamous Treasury paper, the agonising economic pain of voting for Brexit was spelled out to us in no uncertain terms. Is this where the country’s economy stands today? No – in fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unemployment figures released last week show that far from hundreds of thousands of workers, or even millions being out of a job, the number of people in work is now at its highest level since records began. Inflation was also shown to be at a healthy 2.5%. GDP has continued to grow since we voted to leave. All of this highlights just how ridiculous Mr Osborne’s predictions of doom really were. Some of the British people saw through it, although I am sure many voted remain based on the remainers disgusting tactics.
I said during the referendum campaign that the numbers being bandied around by the Remain campaign were complete nonsense. I find it hard to believe that they really thought unemployment would be run rampant as a result of leaving the EU. Now we can see just how nonsensical they were. Jobs and businesses continue to be created. In October the number of start-ups stood at record levels. The cheerleaders for Project Fear have now, unsurprisingly, dramatically changed their tune.
It was recklessly irresponsible of politicians to dangle people’s jobs and livelihoods in front of them. I don’t know whether George Osborne and his Treasury team truly believed it, you’ll have to ask them, but that is ultimately irrelevant. They published purposely fear-inducing predictions aimed at shocking people to vote their way. It didn’t work and those responsible are now out of office.
I have said for years that there may be some economic pain associated with Brexit. It would be naïve and foolish to say anything otherwise. I voted leave because the long-term benefits of increased free trade and ridding ourselves of burdensome EU bureaucracy will be a significant boost to British businesses. That doesn’t mean there will be no pain or setbacks.
Some leading remain campaigners, however, told 3 million people that their livelihoods were reliant on Europe, with an implied threat to their jobs if they didn’t vote their way. Unless unemployment skyrockets over the next month, they will have been proven completely and utterly wrong. Remain told us that, calamity would befall us the moment we decided to leave. Nearly 2 years has since passed by and the economy looks strong, with people in work and businesses thriving.
Change will always produce pain for some people and that is disappointing, but the overall result for Great Britain as a whole will eventually be extremely positive, and you may even judge that it is already pretty positive.
Like all good businessmen, whilst I was running Phones4U I made correct decisions for the business, based on logic and common sense without any influence by political manoeuvrings. How I wish that politicians could run the country in the same way. It is little wonder that public trust in politicians is so low when campaigns like Project Fear prove to be such nonsense. If business leaders behaved like this, their companies would deservedly lose money hand over fist.
Turning to economic growth, we were supposed to see a significant drop in GDP compared to voting remain. We can’t know what the economy would have looked like had that been the case, however, even the most ardent of remainers must surely concede that growth has been significantly healthier than any of their fearful rhetoric suggested. The key lesson from Project Fear is that people won’t simply nod along to scaremongering, especially when it’s so obviously wrong.
I, and 17.4 million others, chose to see a more optimistic, credible vision. We chose to see a country that trades with all corners of the globe, including our European partners. We chose to see a nation where dynamic businesses, free from cumbersome regulation, can sell their goods and services at home and abroad. This, I believe, can be what Brexit Britain looks like, but our leaders must have the political will to make it a reality and not succumb to EU bullying.
It is absolutely critical to our future that we get the right deal, even if that makes trading with Europe a little more difficult.
Thankfully, the architects of Project Fear are not those charged with making this a reality. They prioritised politics over reasoned economic analysis and paid the ultimate price. Recent economic indicators herald the ultimate demise of Project Fear. It will not be mourned, but it will be ridiculed, along with those people responsible for it.
John Caudwell is a philanthropist and founded Phones 4U