The warning that care homes could be forced to close if Brexit makes a workforce crisis even worse shows the need to stay in the single market.
The warnings are stacking up. And yet the UK Government is pressing ahead with a course of action that could seriously damage Britain’s economy.
Scottish Care has become the latest organisation to express its fears over the UK’s looming departure from the European Union, saying it could force some homes and services to close by making an already “severe workforce crisis” even worse.
It comes after Scottish fishermen warned a no-deal Brexit could have a “catastrophic” effect on the inshore fleet because of the resulting tariffs on exports to the EU; bodies representing numerous other sectors – farming, financial services and the construction industry to name a few – have issued similar warnings.
A leaked Government analysis found economic growth would be eight per cent lower under a no-deal Brexit, five per cent lower with a free trade agreement and two per cent lower if the UK remained in the single market for 15 years.
A Scottish Government report concluded Scots would be £2,300 a year worse off if there was no deal, £1,600 poorer in the event of a Canada-style trade deal and lose £688 if the UK stays in the single market. So, it would seem the evidence and the expert opinion is pointing in one direction – for the sake of the nation’s economic health, we must stay in the single market.
However, Theresa May has interpreted the Brexit referendum vote as meaning this is not possible, even though the “will of the people” on this specific point is unknown and open to speculation.
Jeremy Corbyn has obfuscated about the issue, saying the UK should be in “a” customs union, but not that it should remain in “the” existing EU customs union.
Amid the sound and fury of the debate, it is crystal clear that Brexit is going to be a major change for the UK and that it is one that carries a number of significant risks.
Ms May needs to stand up to the hardline Brexiteers within her party and sign a deal with the EU that sees Britain remain in the single market.
After all, this would not be set in stone; the UK would still be able to decide to leave at a future date. Hard Brexit delayed is not hard Brexit denied.
But, in a year’s time when we leap off the Brexit cliff, we may have cause to regret not ensuring the softest of landings.