xi's moments
Home | Europe

UK faces major challenges three years after Brexit

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-02-06 09:27

An ambulance worker sticks a cardboard sign on an ambulance as he takes part in a rally at a picket line outside the Docklands Emergency Operating Centre, Newham Dockside, in London on January 23, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Three years after the United Kingdom exited the European Union, there has been no "golden age" as promised by Brexiteers. Instead, the country's National Health Service is collapsing, there is an ongoing labor shortage and its economy is one of the worst performers among major developed nations.

According to analysis by Bloomberg Economics, Brexit is costing the UK economy £100 billion ($123.21 billion) a year and the nation's economy is 4 percent smaller than it would have been had it stayed in the bloc.

In its latest World Economic Outlook update, the International Monetary Fund projected that the UK economy will shrink by 0.6 percent in 2023, performing worse than other developed economies, and below the forecast for the Russian economy, which is predicted to decline 0.3 percent.

Christopher Bovis, a professor of international business law at the University of Hull, said that three years after the departure, Brexit has proved a bad deal for the UK.

"The economy is not recovering well, and fast, from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country is experiencing a type of political chaos. Exiting the EU and leaving the internal market, which has been the biggest customer of the UK for at least half a century, had seismic effects," Bovis said.

Kathryn Simpson, an associate professor of EU politics and economics at Keele University, Newcastle, said: "It is evident that Brexit has had a negative economic impact on the UK. Since the UK left the EU and, in particular the European single market and customs union, trade, investment, jobs have all been significantly impacted."

When the UK formally left the EU three years ago, there was a belief that its poor economic performance was a result of the pandemic. As businesses grappled with new rules, regulations and trading arrangements under the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, it was anticipated that disruptions would be short-lived. "This disruption and economic uncertainty persists," Simpson said.

Rodolfo Catena, a lecturer of operations and supply management at UCL's Global Business School for Health, said: "The number of improvements we have seen because of Brexit seems to be very limited. We have seen a good number of issues instead.

"For example, the NHS is struggling more than before Brexit. The European Medicines Agency is not in the UK anymore. The problems with exhaustion of IP rights are an obstacle for those that export medicines to the EU," Catena added.

"Of course, there is currently a shortage of labor, as the UK economy strongly relied on EU workers. The NHS benefited from the EU workforce before the referendum. However, the UK has now become less attractive because of visa complexities due to Brexit," he said.

According to new research led by Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics and public policy at King's College London, Brexit has led to a shortfall of more than 330,000 people in the UK labor force.

Bovis, from the University of Hull, said, "The exodus of labor has resulted in a substantial drop of productivity and an increased inflationary pressure from critical labor shortages."

In its recent economic and fiscal outlook analysis, the Office for Budget Responsibility said that Brexit "will result in the UK's trade intensity being 15 percent lower in the long run than if the UK had remained" in the EU.

Bovis noted that the UK had entered into trade agreements with other countries. However, the vast majority were a continuation of existing agreements with these countries from when the UK was still a member of the EU.

"New trade agreements have been concluded with Australia and New Zealand, although there is already serious criticism of their value and the optimal position of British sectors, especially agriculture and the food industry," Bovis said. "The overall benefits to the UK economy from third country FTAs (free trade agreements) are pitiful when considering the cost of leaving the EU internal market".

In the last 12 months, support within the UK for the country being a member of the EU has increased, indicating a shift in public opinion on Brexit.

"A general sense that things have become worse in the UK, in particular a decline in the economy, rising costs, impact on trade and business as well as the loss of benefits of EU membership have all contributed to this shift," Simpson said.

However, experts said this does not mean that the UK is on the verge of a Brexit reversal. "Essentially, both political parties do not want to highlight the negative impacts of Brexit because neither political party wants a rerun of Brexit at the next general election," Simpson said.

"Whichever political party wins an expected 2024 election, relations with the EU might be expected to warm as the bitterness of Brexit fades and both sides confront common challenges like energy, migration and the strategic threat posed by Russia," she added.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349