According to a new report, more than 275 financial firms have moved or are moving more than £900 billion of assets out of the UK in preparation for Brexit. And the think tank behind the figures, New Financial, warned this was likely to be a “significant under-estimate”.
The beneficiaries of this ‘capital flight’ are cities like Dublin, Luxembourg, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. The losers are the people of Britain. Some of this was bound to happen as the UK left the European Union and there will also be an inward flow of EU companies that need to set up offices here.
However, the ridiculous dithering of the UK Government, as it has pandered to the pipedreams of hard-line Brexiteers, has only made things worse.
Brexit should have been sorted out in October. Had this been done, businesses would have been able to plan for the future on a reasonable timescale. Instead, they are having to take steps to protect themselves from the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit in just over two weeks’ time.
Today MPs are due to hold the second ‘meaningful vote’ on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. There were still some suggestions yesterday that this vote might be delayed, but the Government has run out of time and cannot contemplate any further uncertainty. It is finally time for the UK to make up its mind.
If MPs want Brexit to go ahead, they should vote for May’s deal. It’s a fudge, a compromise that almost no one actually likes, but at least it would provide a sensible transition period. If it fails, then under our current laws the UK will be heading for a no-deal Brexit and an entirely self-inflicted economic catastrophe – unless MPs vote tomorrow to prevent this. Heaven help them and the country if they do not.
Given the two current routes to Brexit are both expected to be voted down by MPs, a delay seems inevitable – assuming the 27 other EU member states still have the patience.
May would have to finally accept that her deal was dead – or be replaced as Prime Minister by someone who did. A ‘soft’ Brexit in which the UK stayed in the single market and customs union could perhaps be negotiated, but this is as far removed from the vision painted by the Leave campaign as a no-deal.
So, as divisive as it would be, the only real option left, given the abject failure of our politicians, is a second EU referendum.