A non-extreme view of Brexit

To those vociferously advocating we leave the EU, those of us who argue against them and suggest we’re better off staying are lefties. The central policies of the leave campaign are to erect barriers to economic activity – block free movement of labour, and without non-trivial trade negotiations, an increase in tariffs. These are protectionist, they are market interventionist, and might, thus, be thought of as lefty. Of course, it is a much better strategy to argue on the basis of whether a policy is good or bad in terms of delivering better outcomes (measured somehow) for some number of people (measured and determined somehow), rather than dismissing them for being lefty or right-leaning.

Someone who is unabashedly lefty is Chris Dillow who writes at the blog Stumbling and Mumbling. If you ever need something to do whilst you procrastinate so you can still feel productive, this is a blog you should bookmark. As his title states, he is “(Mildly) against Brexit”.

He is unconvinced about the EU in many areas, such as its ability to carry out macroeconomic policy, and implicitly to make trade deals (I think). However, the kinds of better economic world he is looking for is unlikely to be delivered by Brexit because those associated with it, as mentioned at the start, favour restricting free movement of factors of production, and of goods.

Related, John Kay at the FT has written in detail about the UK’s trading arrangements and Brexit. He does so in a way that he does not reveal his preference regarding Brexit, but points out that the UK is heavily engaged in trade in services – half of our trade relative to 20% of world trade. This means two things: (1) the common market is more important to us since its main thrust for a long time as been non-tariff barriers in areas like the service trade, than it is for our trade partners in Europe who export goods to us. (2) nonetheless, there are crucial differences in UK trade makeup not shared by other EU members that may make EU trade deals less suitable to the UK than the rest of the EU.

Today in Economics Conversations (1pm, HumSS 125), we’ll be debating Brexit and Trade – see you there!