I am a remainer and I think Britain has made a huge historic mistake in voting to leave that will have serious negative effects on the economy. That said, Larry Elliott has raised serious issues in relation to the EU that deserve serious answers.
In the first place in terms of the impact of a Brexit vote the HM Treasury analysis was clear: “ A vote to leave would cause an immediate and profound economic shock creating instability and uncertainty which would be compounded by the complex and interdependent negotiations that would follow. The central conclusion of the analysis is that the effect of this profound shock would be to push the UK into recession and lead to a sharp rise in unemployment.” This hasn’t happened; although Brexit obviously hasn’t happened the analysis was of the vote and many of the indicators (stock market, consumer confidence etc.) are inherently forward-looking.
More generally much of what Larry Elliott (and Dan Atkinson) have written over the last 20 years or so has concerned EMU. For remainers like me during the referendum one could reasonably argue past this as long as Britain retain its opt out. That said, Elliott and Atkinson argued from the outset that EMU was an unworkable idea. For this they were patronised by officials and commentators, not least supposedly progressive one. In Britain opposition to EMU was often stereotyped as being the hallmark of Europhobic right wingers, even though similar arguments to Elliott and Atkinson were made by (amongst others) post-Keynesian economists such as Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer.
It is surely unarguable now that Elliott and Atkinson were right. EMU was a disastrously misconceived project from the outset which no progressive should have supported (indeed an undergraduate economics student with a grasp of optimum currency area should have spotted the problems). It is true that the EU has promoted peace, unity and prosperity since WW2, but EMU is failing to do this and leading to division instead. Moreover, since the start of the global financial crisis the authorities have mismanaged it. This goes to the heart of one of the objections, the lack of democracy. In a democracy, policy-makers who mismanaged on the scale the Troika have done would have been voted out of office at the first opportunity, but of course this isn’t possible. Latterly the IMF has acknowledged some failings in its approach to the Euro-zone crisis, of course there’s been no such mea culpa from the other two parties.
Elliott and Atkinson warned of the fundamental flaws in the Euro Zone. It was a giant experiment and the results are in — they were right all along, the proponents of EMU were wrong. Yet, the architects are still in charge, still insisting that the fundamental of the plan are correct. I still disagree with Elliott about the referendum, but the EU was a hard sell in the context of the Euro Zone (supported by many, but by no means all, prominent remain campaigners).