A Brexit plan is just the beginning of a very gritty voyage

I’m afraid we’ve become too inured by or too focused on whether or not Therese May actually has a plan to exit the EU.

Let’s assume for the moment there is such a plan. Does anyone really believe that plan will then be used as a glide path to leave the orbit of Brussels and sail out into the wide wonderful world.

Let’s also assume — a big assumption — that we’re able to get a good deal with the EU in terms of market access and movement of people — although there is everything to suggest that’s going to be difficult to impossible.

But let us move the marker to the point where the UK is now in the position of negotiating trade agreements with other countries in order for us to begin the slow and painful process of rebuilding our economy.

Some quick points to keep in mind:

— The goal is not to get a trade agreement; the goal is to get a good trade agreement and that can be a herculean process when you consider that the country negotiating on the other side of the table is as keen to get the better deal as you are.

— Who are we going to get these trade agreements? Neither the United State nor China want to spend any significant effort dealing with what they consider a small, almost insignificant country. (Forget the “Special Relaitonship”. That exists only in political rhetoric.) India has already signaled we’re not that attractive. That leaves Australia, Southeast Asian nations and Latin America — which when lumped all together don’t have anywhere near the critical mass of export potential we need in a trading partner.)

— And finally, an intense trade negotiation will reveal the weaknesses in the UK economy that have so far been shielded from the public by the insidious manipulation of official economic statistics. Believe me, when we sit down with whoever they are going to have a very accurate picture of our sluggish productivity rate, our very high real unemployment level and the gaping disparity of spending power on a geographical basis. And I before I forget, inflation will be biting our heels at the same time.

So eventually Mother Therese will unveil her plan, we will then negotiate with the EU and then we will start negotiating trade agreements.

All sounds so simple. But by the time we get through the mess that is Brexit, we will have moved our economy from the struggling category to the completely devastated camp.

So to Davey Cameron at this Christmas time, I say: “Thanks pal. Thanks a lot.”

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