A Week Into Full Brexit, the Pain for U.K. Businesses Has Arrived

Jan 09, 2021 · 151 comments
Ami (California)
Fairly minor 'teething pains' consistent with any significant change. Unfortunately, Brexist doesn't fit the progressive/globalist agenda.
Michael (London UK)
Brexit is a terrible error, a huge, tragic and possibly fatal mistake. It means the end of the U.K. as Scotland becomes independent and Northern Ireland reunites with Ireland. Our economy will deflate like a slow puncture. I’m beyond anger I want revenge on all the stupid selfish politicians who pushed for it.
D. Wagner (Massachusetts)
But there was always going to be paperwork. Honestly, I have a hard time summoning up much sympathy for Parisians, who farm 90% of their land mass and eat pretty much better than anyone in the world, except for perhaps the Italians, not getting M&S salads. The paperwork will get done. Put the blame for this where it belongs, on Margaret Thatcher.
Castanea Sativa (USA)
Cameron's Brexit referendum was in 2016. The young were against it and the old in favor. Now 4 years later sadly many of these elderly voters have departed. Yet there was no further voting. So in fact it's the deceased who have had the last word on the future of the UK so to speak. That's democracy in action or perhaps "retroaction". Boris may not be as evil as Donald but he is just as stupid. Be grateful to Farage, Putin and of course the US Mercer family (Cambridge Analytica) for Brexit. In fairness Boris is a very cultured man. He travels to former British colonies to recite incomprehensible "imperial" poetry from Rudyard Kipling. Nice reminder. Impressive.
Carla (Brooklyn)
They asked for it , they got it. Half the country voted for it without even knowing what it was. Just like in the US: ignorance rules.
BDAguy (Virginia)
I believe Brexit to be a mistake. However, one week’s worth of anecdotal data in the midst of a crippling pandemic may not be a fair gauge of Brexit’s wisdom or mechanics. The article comes across as somewhat churlish, almost gloating on systemic failures which would be associated with such a major upheaval. Time might (probably) tell us Brexit was a mistake, but the UK is a plucky place and will find its footing in due course; perhaps with a hit to the economy and certainly a hit to its global reach, but, as the 1939 song said in Britain’s looming WW2 catastrophe, There’ll Always Be An England.
TK (Cambridge)
All easily forecasted. Anti-immigrant sentiment as a cudgel for the few to wield to enrich themselves. Worth examining closely; anti-globalist forces are now fully unleashed. Let’s parse through the ripple effects — first and foremost, are those jobs back yet? On that note, is there any effective planning being done against the destabilizing force of automation? Will there be sufficient adaptation to create the next wave of jobs including through entrepreneurship? Small and big business will need to create the jobs, unless we think the public sector can execute something like this instead of botching it like they’ve done other things. We haven’t even started the discussion on the ripple effects of climate change, scarcity, and mass displacement. If you think societal breakdown is becoming unbearable already, I’m afraid we have not reached the finale. Unless we choose to act.
Michael Green (Brooklyn)
These are the major problems created by Brexit? Not exactly a World War II invasion or the Cold War. A little inconvenience in exchange for self determination doesn't seem to be such a bad exchange. Lets see what it looks like in a year. Maybe Italy and Spain will be following by then.
Mike S. (Eugene, OR)
To make a huge change in a major system in the middle of a pandemic is asking for trouble. People at the top say make it happen then move on, not caring to deal with either the little things (or not so little) that need to be addressed or the little people. Unfortunately, the little things and the little people make the whole country function. I was waiting for this article.
Sasha (Brooklyn)
Pro Tip: Take advantage of cheaper priced suits and shoes in the next couple of years before the quality in the industry completely tanks (due to said cheaper prices). That’s for us outside of the UK. Those who live in the UK, I’m not sure what the advantage is.
Tim Perry (Fort Bragg, CA)
Much of the commentary here is a tit-for-tat exchange about very short term issues. History is a better guide. After WWII Britain was impoverished and rapidly socializing its major industries, a process that began of necessity during the War but continued afterwards as politics were dominated by hard-edged Labor Party socialism. The constraints on entrepreneurial activity led to significant emigration of scientists and engineers, which was a significant factor in seeding Silicon Valley in the fifties and sixties. Ironically now, the Tory Party is taking Britain down the same path of economic failure, albeit with a different political ideology. But the result will be the same: a weak economy, stagnation and a repeat of the brain drain of the Fifties.
Michael (London UK)
@Tim Perry I’d dispute the negative effect of the Labour Party. They rebuilt the country after 1945 even paying down the national debt at a time of extreme austerity. They spread wealth and health to all for the first time and of course created the NHS. The long term decline in manufacturing accelerated under Thatcher who also created permanent regions of poverty in the north. Gradually the Tories moved their politics to petty nationalism which wasn’t resisted strongly enough by the rest of us and now here we are. Shot.
Sasha (Brooklyn)
I’m sure the current generation of Britons will be happy to learn that their future was sacrificed for some vague notion of a further future where the UK finds some benefit to all this. This wasn’t how the product was sold to them and claiming it will all make sense one day is a dodge.
Dusty99 (Manchester)
@Tim Perry Poppycock about the Labour Party and socialism.
Leigh (Qc)
Can a newly elected government with a comfortable majority and no powerful opposition fall before completing a year in office? The chance of such a thing ever happening, until now so minuscule, has this week become an odds on favourite.
Larry (TX)
This is what they wanted. But as Mr. Spock said, "Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting."
Richard from Philly (Philadelphia)
The Brexit campaign was born in ignorance and raised on lies. I would like to see a day of reckoning for Johnson and Farage, but not at the cost of the gullible innocents they dragged behind.
Dusty99 (Manchester)
@Richard from Philly Well said,Richard. Spot on.
anjin (NY)
@Richard from Philly That "Ignorance" and "lying" thing seems to be going around. Is anybody working on a vaccine?
David (Victoria, Australia)
But at least ' they got their country back'...
HMC (Brisbane ex Chicago)
@David Oh Lord! Their country (which is/was mine) has lost so much more than the "privilege" they believe they have acheived. I foresee the breakup of the UK over this foolishness - caused by the same mindset thay is wrecking the USA.
Colin Beesley (UK)
@David Yes - back to 1973. And what a halcyon period that was
Linda (OK)
Trump supported Brexit so they should have realized it was a mistake.
George S. (NY & LA)
The MSM continues to report Brexit as if it's negative impact will be sudden, swift and relatively short-lived. But the reality is not the immediate disruptions of additional paperwork caused by Brexit. The toll will be paid over many years as global businesses shift more and more assets from Britain to the remaining EU countries in order to profitably access the Continent's much larger market place. Brexit is a pending economic mistake masquerading as a display of British nationalism. The British have chosen to engage in a nostalgic exercise in nationalistic pride that runs counter their own 21st Century economic needs. The immediate disruptions you report, skewed in any event by the immediate problems of the Covid pandemic, are not the measure of how bad a mistake Brexit will prove to be. The real result will only be measured over time as companies first start to redeploy existing British assets to EU member countries and then, over time, regularly choose the latter for new investments. The logistics of supplying the EU market from Britain always required more cost and planning but were deemed worth it. Now raising those costs and planning plus adding on complications related to import/export controls only worsens Britain's remoteness from the Continent-wide marketplace. The negative side of "independence" is "isolation".
Norman Dupuis (CALGARY, AB)
A slow motion catastrophe years in the making that everyone who did not experience fever dreams of nationalism (read: isolationism repackaged as pride) could see a mile away. Three years ago my family was travelling through Heathrow from the continent back home to Canada and we had a few Euros left in our pockets. Stopping at a shop in the airport we proffered those Euros as payment and the Late middle aged clerk froze, turned their upper lip into a snarl and asked: “What - you don’t have any pounds?” Sometimes disaster is so close you can’t see it.
Je1983 (Uk)
@Norman Dupui next time I am in Canada maybe I will try to pay in Lira or Baht. The UK uses pound sterling. Leaving a political union in favour of a free trade deal is not isolation- unless you believe every other country in the world outside of the EU is 'isolated'!
Troy H (Texas)
@Je1983 The UK is certainly more isolated than it was a few days ago. The argument is that it is a step backwards.
RV (Tucson)
@Norman Dupuis British Airways attempts to put on a good face about this by allowing passengers to donate their unused currency of any any nation to a children's charity, either at Heathrow or on the planes. The current program, Flying Start, serves children in all cities that BA flies to, but my recollection is that the earlier program was for a UK children's charity. The other side of this farcical coin is that in 1985, merchants in London would not accept one pound notes that I still had from when I attended school in London in 1974. The old notes, crisp and uncirculated beyond the exchange bank and myself, had to be exchanged at a bank for "current" currency.
Richard Norfolk (Colchester, UK)
As a purveyor of services, especially financial services, a key driver for the UK leaving the EU has been an assertion, broadly shared across the UK Parliament, that restructuring of EU tax legislation would constrain the UK from exploiting & benefitting from its fiscal policies, especially in terms of its future plans. If we were all financiers, this might be great. However, in the decades that we have been members of the Common Market, through its evolution into the EU, it has become woven into the fabric of our society and our psyche, not to mention our business practices. Brexit is a bold piece of blue-sky thinking, but I am concerned that it has too many flaws for it to be of a net benefit to the country as a whole, albeit those in gaining sectors will be enjoying their Happy New Year, while it’s cold turkey for many others. We also have the small matter of a planet that will need some maintenance in the fairly near future and a necessary reconfiguration of economic policies globally, as the need for management of dwindling resources comes to the fore. While this is not a popular notion with many industrialists and may not be for the right here, right now, the direction the UK is taking, away from the EU, does not lend itself to optimal management of these future challenges, which will need the closest collaboration, between the finest minds of the UK and its neighbours, to be able to effectively address.
Greg (Los Angeles)
I recall studying a case being tried in the courts in the Hague - a major dispute between England and France - of the grading of eggs. The sheer folly of this ongoing and multi-level dispute had me shaking my head, thinking that there had to be a better way - well, there was....and now it is gone. Back to scrambled eggs.
Ted (Ain)
@Greg The Hague is home to the International Criminal Court (among others) - nothing to do with the EU - and while the argument over egg grading was akin to similar concerns about the bendiness of bananas, I suspect the case was heard in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg
VambomadeSAHB (Scotland)
@Greg "England" was never a member of the EU. The UK, of which England is a part, was a member.
KD Lawrence (Nevada)
Brexit is just like Trump's wall... a desire to keep out immigrants out of the county. The problem with Brexit, unlike the Wall, is it rolled over to trade and will take a tremendous toll on the economy. As the EU finds new industrial partners, depression and despair will take hold, the engines of commerce will sputter and the economy will sink to new lows -- eventually, the man on the street will ask "why did we ever vote to leave the EU "--- by then it may be too late to fix the problem.
Baz (England)
@KD Lawrence I’m not qualified to judge on US politics although I have my views, you are certainly not qualified or informed enough to say why I voted for Brexit, it certainly had nothing to do with immigration
ac (uk)
@Baz. You were probably not qualified to comment on the UK-EU relationship either, very few people were, and they were slammed with the "Project Fear" trope. Some certainly did vote for the "Wall", many believed the lies. Brexit gives us no benefit, perhaps in principle there is something, but not in practice, while the disadvantages are many and real.
Dusty99 (Manchester)
@Baz Touched a nerve?
Baz (England)
I find it truly amazing that so many Americans think they understand why we voted for Brexit It’s complicated, there is no one reason For me, I voted against joining the European Communities in 1975. We lost but I accepted that But in 1993 the EC changed from being a trading block into a political block under the Maastricht Treaty. This meant I legally became a citizen of the EU. I didn’t want this, no one asked my permission, as far as I was concerned I was a British citizen. Nothing else Eu rules started overriding U.K. rules, I didn’t get a vote on this Time went on, the Eu grew closer together but the U.K. was always a reluctant partner. We obtained opt outs from many of the new initiatives. We blocked the Eu on many of their initiatives eg creating a Eu army as we favoured nato and refused to join the Euro currency There was always an anti Eu segment of voters in the U.K. and we’d previously been promised a referendum by Tony Blair but were betrayed, probably because of the risk of voting to leave When we finally got the chance, we voted to leave. Most of us were not persuaded by the lies of the campaign or by the out of control immigration, we had made up our minds years ago For better or worse, we now control our own laws and our future
MEH (Ontario)
@Baz big deal. Enjoy the feeling while you can. Not sure it puts bread on the table, though
JFA (BCN)
@Baz For worse, it will show, and is showing. You're selfish nationalism has condemned generations to isolation and poverty.
Tim (New York)
Where’s the hundreds of millions of pounds in savings the Brexiteers promised? Maybe Mexico will be paying?
Je1983 (Uk)
@Tim The UK has ceased all EU budget contributions and also wont have to pay for the Covid bailout fund or any other future bailouts eg. if there is another 'Greece' fiasco. The millions in savings is being spent on vaccinations - UK has vaccinated 1.5 million citizens whilst the EU27 are putting a cap on each country and fighting amongst themselves as per usual.
MEH (Ontario)
Still have an exit bill to pay though, isn’t there?
ac (uk)
@Je1983. The miniscule cost of EU membership is easily swallowed up by the cost of the new paperwork. Like many you believed the lies and were fooled by the 'big' numbers. The cost of brexit has been great, there will be ongoing costs, costs carried both at national and personal levels, and all for not one iota of benefit.
Tim (New York)
The Scots are saying “no” to Boris Johnson, and “no” to Donald Trump. God bless Scotland.
VambomadeSAHB (Scotland)
@Tim This Scot is certainly saying no to both. Firstly, on Brexit it should be remembered that Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a margin of roughly 60% against 40%. Brexit was about English nationalism more than anything else. There's a delicious irony in that the Conservative & Unionist party is driving the break-up of the UK. There will certainly be a referendum on Scottish independence if the SNP retain, or even increase, their majority in the forthcoming election. Secondly, on Trump, I began following him here about 5 years ago because of what he did & tried to do in Scotland. My starting point was that he was a monster & I've seen nothing that changes that. I'm surprised that so many Americans were surprised by recent events. Wednesday was the logical & obvious culmination of "Trumpism". If the Democrats impeach him my view is that his recent phone call should be included. I can't help but wonder what other phone calls he might have made recently to other States looking for votes to be "found". Thirdly, what are the Republicans going to do next? Are they going to let the Senators who opposed certifying the vote remain in the fold? I've seen a lot of comment on this. What I haven't seen is comments on the 100+ Representatives who also opposed certification. I can see no other future for the GOP than internal warfare, the only questions are how long it will last & how much political capital will be spent.
Lois Murray (New Haven, Connecticut)
If I was a citizen of Scotland I’d definitely vote for independence from the rapidly failing state that is the UK. Scotland’s always been treated shabbily by the English.
Caroline (Paris,France)
When you learn that since Brexit 2021 Irish Truckdrivers prefer to travel by ferries from the Irish harbor of Rosslare directly to the French harbor of Dunkirk which takes 24 hours to avoid all the customs hassles and Red Tape,you can easily imagine the harm Britain 's Brexit vote has inflicted on itself and on the EU for importers and exporters .
Keith (Dover)
What a load of scare mongering lies,business has had years to prepare for this.It looks like the remain brigade would rather is Britain in the gutter,rather than admit they were wrong.Any business that hasn't got the right paperwork isn't a very good business People with the right paperwork are sailing through our ports.I know this to be fact.
MEH (Ontario)
@Keith sure, sure. How big is your sample? Guess a few layoffs at these not very good businesses will be collateral damage?
Sean (Wirral)
@Keith You claim that businesses have had years to prepare, but that's not entirely true though is it. What were they preparing for, what rules where changing, what extra paperwork would be needed? This Government dithered over the negotiations, and where very closed mouthed about what the outcome would be. Some of the information that companies would need was only confirmed on 30/31st December. When it had to be used by 1st Jan! At the ports it is near dead, ferries that are normally packed with HGVs are still near empty. This chaos isn't on the EU side by and large. It's on our side. This Brexit government displaying a depressingly predictable level of incompetence and uselessness in a crisis. The UK will slowly bleed business and opportunities to the larger and more attractive EU. I fear that the end result will be the UK stumbling along based on being be cheap labour of the region. Tories are already talking about using our new sovereignty to remove troublesome labour laws.
Ted (Ain)
@Keith you suggest that the remain brigade would rather see Britain in the gutter yet, before Brexit, Britain had the third biggest economy in the world, a seat at the top table internationally, institutions like the BBC that are respected around the globe (although strangely not in Britain), a finance centre that was world-beating, science technology and arts that led much of the world and of course, control of its borders....and I could go on. How much better do you expect a small island to be?
Caroline (Los Angeles)
Those supporting Brexit were nationalist xenophobes, and now they are making the whole country reap what they sowed. Britain already had so many exceptions to the rules from the European Union, including keeping the British pound. London was the center of the financial world--certainly in Europe. No longer. The whole country is becoming a shell of itself. Britain is turning into what it could avoided: becoming an impoverished little island lacking in the cultural, economic and culinary richness that its neighbors were willing to share and which they rejected. My grandmother used to have an expression for this: cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Je1983 (Uk)
@Caroline what an awful generalisation of brexit supporters. When is your country going to share a currency with the rest of North and South America then? Why is there not a parliament and a court in Canada or Brazil that can overrule the US supreme Court and change your laws and regulations? I guess you must be xenophobes for not doing this right?
Caroline (Los Angeles)
@Je1983 As the article suggests, all of the long lines and economic hardship and paperwork resulting from Brexit reflects why Britain decided initially to get into the Common Market and then the European Union in the first place. This did contribute to the British economy, and the other Europeans accepted most of your demands for exceptional status--including keeping the British pound--while keeping all of the rest of the goodies. The European Union did not fundamentally undermine your legal system, so that implication is absurd. I know Americans, by the way, who live in the U.K. and are now British citizens who voted for Brexit. They are defending the realm against "foreigners", after having migrated there!
Matthew (Manchester)
@Caroline 35% of ethnic minorities in the U.K. voted leave. This fraction rises to more than 50% of those of indian heritage. Anecdotally they wanted a points based migration system, just like the majority of British heritage people do as well.
Truth to Power (Michigan)
The primary reason for British withdrawal from the EU is immigration. Or rather the lack of a clear EU immigration policy. To date, the EU has demonstrated an unwillingness to address this huge issue, which is truly sad.
Tim (New York)
The UK is small, and getting smaller by the day. It will soon be emigration, not immigration, that triggers an economic crisis. Also, won’t be long before Scotland leaves the UK and joins the EU, because the Scottish are looking clear-eyed at the future, not clinging to nostalgia for a vanished empire.
Elise (England, northamptonshire)
@Tim Tim as an English lady who lives in England, whenever I see this belief that the English want to hold onto Scotland due to “empire” quite laughable, if they did the referendum in England on whether to separate from Scotland many polls have shown the Scots would have been independent years ago. Google the Barnett formula- one of the main reasons, many English can’t wait for the Scots to go, the. Political parties just need to catch up!
Ben (New York)
@Tim Are you opposed to Scottish independence, lad?
Mark (BVI)
An economist from way back said countries do to themselves with tariffs in peace what enemy blockades do to them in war -- they prevent the citizens from trading.
Andybhoy (Okanagan ,Canada)
The question no Brexiter could ever answer "What is being part of the E.U. preventing you from doing today ? ". The question they should be asking themselves now "Why can't I have my cake and eat it ? ". "Where's my salad ? ". "Where's my job ? ". A leading Tory credited with inspiring Brexit has urged Boris Johnson to cull a raft of EU consumer and worker protections, now the UK has the freedom to act. Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said. “Change is coming. To succeed outside the EU, we need to be fitter, leaner and more globally engaged,” said the former MEP, who has just been made a Conservative peer. Happy Now ?
Allen Gottlieb (Northeastern Pennsylvania)
Ya mean the freedom to import good ol’ USA chlorinated chicken isn’t enough to leave the EU? It has to b—especially when combined with reduced worker protections, privacy laws and cheap Eastern European agricultural workers.
JFA (BCN)
@Baz With vaccine developed in the EU.
Baz (England)
@Andybhoy Being outside of the EU has already resulted in us vaccinating more of our population than the entire EU.
Andy (Cincinnati)
Xenophobia, racism, and fantasies of past times that were actually not so great are proving to be quite the maladaptive burden. Who could have predicted? lol
Keith (Dover)
@Andy Come and live in Dover See what your free movement has done to a once great town.I bet you've never left your comfy surroundings where none of these people actually live right next door to you
David Wallace (New Jersey)
@Keith These people? An interesting term. So alarming to have neighbors with accents or who are not proficient in your language, Or are you referring to people of colour? Britain is standing alone once again sadly for much different reasons than the last time it did. Glad there will be fewer of these people about, what a score really. Really showed the man, I do sincerely wish you the best of luck & that Dover get's rid of those people....will it make Britain great again?
Liz (New England)
Brexit is a self-inflicted wound. Unbelievably stupid and short-sighted. How remarkably embarrassing that so many Brits voted for Brexit! Parallel to the stupidity of the 70+million Americans who supported Trump and his minions. Both countries are now in a state of chaos.
Je1983 (Uk)
@Liz Ask the EU countries how their vaccine programs are going? 1.5 million vaccinated in the UK now. Just 5000 in France. The EU commission are bungling and arguing amongst themselves as usual. The Germans are watching their own vaccines being packed onto lorries bound for the UK (and other sovereign countries).
Philip (London)
@Je1983 Back in April people like you used to talk about how well the UK death rate from covid was compared to other EU countries. Nine months on we lead Europe with 80,000 dead, on course for 100,000 by the end of the month. Here you are now as vaccines are being rolled out crowing about how well the UK is doing compared to the EU.
Dusty99 (Manchester)
@Je1983 More made up piffle. Evidence? Thought not.
Caroline (Paris,France)
I give it less than 20 years before British young generations will elect Pro-Eu politicians, (Gone with the false promises and lies N.Farage and the Populist Brexit leaders will be together with many "Brexiters" as they were elderly people).And i give it less than 10 years before Scotland leaves the UK to re join the EU.
Tim (New York)
I give it two years. Brexit is a disaster.
willconqueror (EU)
Brexit was a stroke of pure genius and the trade deal was the icing on the cherry cake. The EU maintained 100% access to its UK export market and the UK lost 80% of its EU export market. Bravo Brussels.
Caroline (Paris,France)
@willconqueror Bravo David Cameron,Nigel Farage,Boris Johnson and V.Putin you mean.
willconqueror (EU)
@Caroline Throughout the UK's membership it was opt-out after opt-out and they never made an effort to be full committed members. Even throughout their referenda and the last four years it was always about their annual contribution of £9bn and never once mention their Treasury income of £182bn ... from EU FS passporting and EU Institutions based in Britain. We are better off without such people.
EvaLee (Arnhem Netherlands)
@willconqueror Right are you. It’s also mine opinion.
Grindelwald (Boston Mass)
People get used to paperwork and even higher prices for goods. I suspect the important news will be when manufacturing and r&d facilities in the UK either are or are not renewed or retooled. We ordinary people will likely not have the data to tell what is really happening. As far as I understand all this, there is a period of a few years during which an existing plant amortizes what has already been invested in it, even if conditions change. When it is time to invest more, there is always a chance to relocate. R&D and research groups often work on projects lasting a year or two. Travel and living conditions for critical staff and their families can affect siting decisions.
Maxi Nimbus (Füssen, Germany)
@Grindelwald What you see now is not what you'll get in whole. Brexit means a steady, permanant and quiet slip downhill.
JFA (BCN)
@Grindelwald While your points are valid in a normal paradigm, Brexit means that the rules of origin laws add layers of complications to the previously integrated just in time manufacturing process pan EU, resulting in more barriers and problems for UK producers now. The impact will be seen in the coming weeks, and more and more EU companies will simply cease to trade with the UK, especially as the UK VAT regime is not proving at all easy or worthwhile for many EU business to initiate. Brexit is a disincentive to trade, the first time a country has willingly given up market access to their major market, and in this case, for no visible or tangible benefit to the UK.
Dusty99 (Manchester)
@Maxi Nimbus Well said! I find it astonishing that so few of my fellow countrymen cannot see this.
poindexter machiavelli (right here)
For the past three quarters of a century, my country and Great Britain have spent trillions and trillions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction, to the point that our economies are based in no small part of the continuation of that effort. the same is true for countries ideologically opposed to "our side". And to think with all of that weaponry, all it took was two buffoons with bad haircuts to bring the whole thing down. Who knew?
Eric (Manhattan)
Well, at least Brits can now stop those pesky Eastern Europeans from immigrating. Wait, you say they already did stop coming to the UK? That Eastern Europeans have shrinking working age populations and alternative destinations? But, but, who will take care of the UK elderly, pick the crops, construct homes, and serve tea?
The Eyewitness (New York)
Few realize that Brexit was a Godsend for the EU. While in the Union the UK blocked the march of ever closer union and integration. The UK is gone now and without influence. The path is clear for a United States of Europe to develop.
Mona (Zwolle (NL))
@The Eyewitness o no the eu is far enough. Don't want a United States of Europe. I think no one likes that idea . We ( each european country) all have our own identity, culture, languages. Let's keep it that way.
Baz (England)
@The Eyewitness Finally an American who understands the situation. Yes the powers that be in the EU are heading for a United States of Europe and the U.K. was never signed up to that We’ve left and can make our own future, while the Eu can now progress without our blocking it to their destination
Je1983 (Uk)
@The Eyewitness Do all 27 want ever closer union? Do their citizens get a say? It's hardly a godsend when the UK now has a tariff and quota free trade deal without having to make multi billion pound annual EU contributions or be subject to the ECJ. The UK does more than 50% of its trade outside the EU and once the customs teething issues are figured out the EU will not look so attractive.
Scanmike (Neponsit NY)
For a country that believed in colonizing the earth a good portion of their history I thought they would embrace the idea of a EU. I guess it doesn't apply when it's a two way street.
Elizabeth (West Coast)
@Scanmike "For a country that believed in colonizing the earth" I think you misunderstand and mistake the connection between imperialism and self-determination, and who are the colonizers. After all the United States has colonized most of the best land in North America. English imperialism made the early United States through English colonization and culture of which, unless you are indigenous to North America, the main beneficiary. Its current self determination is what those - who did not colonize - see as their best future, even if some Brits may voice views that may be a little anachronistic at times.
Elise (England, northamptonshire)
@Scanmike as an English woman ,I think you would find nothing would be further from the truth. We don’t want an empire, many English ( more than the Scots) would like the Scots to go their own way due to the democratic deficit- the West Lothian issue, snd the economic issue over the Barnett formula. If you want a greater understanding of English feelings towards independence for the countries in the UK then google those. Most polls show that it England had their own referendum, then England would have broken away years ago. Being from England and from a heavily Brexit area- the main reason to leave the EU was the hatred sovereignty over all sorts of issues being lost with no vote in it, on what originally was a trading block but now has become something so much more
The People's Elbow (New York)
John Bolton supports Brexit - what's he got to say about this?
Joe (WA)
Totally predicable result caused by the refusal of Boris to submit the final Brexit terms to the British people for another vote. That should have been done because the final mess was a far cry from the list of "benefits" he and his cronies pushed back in 2015 when the vote was initially taken. What these craven politicians have done to the British economy will cost the British people dearly in every regard for decades. Expect the abolishment of the United Kingdom soon as the economic bite worsens and the Scots, Welch, and Northern Irelanders realize they would be far, far better off to become independent nation states and rejoin the EU. England has committed economic suicide the rest of the UK would be smart to bail now.
Tom Q (Minneapolis, MN)
To our British cousins, an old adage from China. Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.
Ben (New York)
Paying the rent. Purchasing health insurance. Upgrading software. Completing stacks of government forms regarding one's practices in hiring personnel or discarding waste material. When one considers the overwhelming array of "Admin" chores one can neglect when one is employed by a large organization to do a few tasks at which one is proficient, it is a wonder that anyone ever leaves the cozy corporate nest to start a business of their own. Independence must have seemed a foolish pipe dream in that suburban garage the day after Jeff Bezos quit his day job.
01566 (MA)
@Ben As hedge fund managers Bezos and his wife knew exactly what they were doing and they had the money from their own resources and a detailed plan. Only the ignorant would call what they did a "pipe dream". Such people with vision are sorely needed to move our society forwrd
Joe Ryan (Bloomington IN)
Key observation quoted in this article: “People forget just how difficult things were in the past.”
Bob Jonesi (Lafayette, CA)
The Scots will not tolerate this for long.
poindexter machiavelli (right here)
@Bob Jonesi - - - Will they let Trump into the country?
Andybhoy (Okanagan ,Canada)
@poindexter machiavelli Wee Nippy aka Nicola Sturgeon has already said ( and I paraphrase ) " Coming to Scotland to play golf is not a valid reason for entry during Covid-19 Pandemic".
Tim (New York)
The Scots will not tolerate this, period. Boris is a small man in a soon to be smaller country.
Lucien Dhooge (Atlanta, Georgia)
Brexit is an inexplicable act of self-harm by a country historically known for its steely resolve in the face of problems. Great Britain is destined to become Little England.
Kelly (Laguna Niguel, CA)
This is a mirror image of Trump’s tactics in America. Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and enough people will believe it. I guess Brexit Trumps even our own insanity and naive thinking.
JFA (BCN)
I hate to say I told you so, but "I told you so"... You can't lie to people about abstract, idealistic issues and expect reality to reflect and bend to those lies. Sound familiar to those in the USA? Brexit- like Trump, is, was and always will be a scam. Johnson will probably resign soon, citing Covid exhaustion, abandoning his country to the lower ranks in terms of world power, and continuing decline. He will continue to enjoy a privileged life of class exception while his country pays the price of his lies, greed, mendaciousness and flawed ambition. All Brits have to live with the consequences of believing a known liar, basing national policy on emotional rather than rational choices. Besides being based on racism and a flawed sense of historical and cultural supremacism, Brexit has revealed the true nature and position of the UK in the world. The final deal is a humiliation in slow motion, and will sow the seeds of discord and class warfare in the UK (or what's left of it when the sensible Scots abandon England, along with Northern Ireland). All pay and no say. The UK is now a vassal state to the EU, with delusions of grandeur based on a flawed interpretation of their own history, which was brutal, destructive and globally damaging. Engerlund will be forever known as the little minded nation that cut off its nose to spite its face. Known as an unreliable partner, capable of reneging on international treaties with the ink yet to dry, a pariah state fading to irrelevance.
grbobf (Houston TX metro area)
Isn't BREXIT wonderful!!!!
Keith (Dover)
@grbobf yes its a shame that remainers still can't bring themselves to support this country.So instead they take to echo Chambers like this where they can all agree
Aimee (Colorado)
Who could have ever predicted this would happen?!
John Horvath (Cleveland, Ohio)
What were the “problems” BREXIT intended to “fix”? I never saw the sense in this action, and strongly suspected Putin being the author, just as Putin was pulling Trump’s strings. Or am I being confused by the serendipitous and coincidental display of stupidity on both sides of the Atlantic? Was the weakening of our two countries coordinated, or are we all just “lucky”?
Bibi (CA)
@John Horvath While hating to give him so much credit and power, I think you are on to something...
kkseattle (Seattle)
The four years of Trump were horrific, but at least Rupert Murdoch and his right-wink kookosphere has been licked to the curb in the United States. The damage he has wreaked on the U.K. will last for a generation or more. And for what? All so he could put another billion in the bank. How many ex-wives? How many estranged children? Why must we permit obscene rich sociopaths to immiserate entire nations?
actspeakup (boston, ma)
@kkseattle Tragically Murdoch and Fox has not been kicked to the curb. The lunacy and massive decline in quality of life they usher in are evidenced everywhere. Think Wiley Coyote when he looks into the camera and realizes there is not land under him and he is about to fall into a canyon. Humanity doesn't learn?! More decline of Empires in several acts. Add that it s a descent into barbarism for the average person. Think the powerful dystopian film 'Children of Men.' We are in the preamble for that sort of thing -- unless there is some miraculous rise in consciousness or the young decide to wake up and take power to save themselves from climate change...
Bibi (CA)
@kkseattle I wish he were kicked to the curb; he births and supports the shameless, dangerous trio of Hannity, Carlson and Ingraham who thrive on dividing this country with hate. Usually immigrants are grateful to this country, and try to benefit it; not Rupert Murdoch.
Quizzical (Maine)
So Brexit solved the UK’s immigration problems? Yeah, that checks out. Britain is going to be so poor nobody will want to emigrate to the UK ever again. Well done Mr Johnson! You accomplished that baby and the bath water thing perfectly...
charles sparks (virginia)
The Brexiteers deliberately boasted of benefits while minimizing, if not ignoring the costs. They basically lied to the British people about how easy was going to be; that the EU would give Britain everything it wanted; that the future was glorious with no bumps in the road. As an American who admires Britain, I feel sorry for you and wish you well.
DRE (UK)
None of this is exactly Earth Shattering is it? The NYT seems to have an infatuation with Brexit, but bear in mind that Marks & Spencer have been awful performers for years and this issue they have is a potential tax on candy made in Germany (which could easily be made in the UK). The UK is a net importer so trade disruption is not the 1 way problem described in this garbage article (get some balance please). And, this is not "co-operation" but rules made by bureaucrats, which may Europeans aren't too happy with (and I voted to remain in the EU!). You have to wonder whether Eshe Nelson has every been to the UK.
Ben (New York)
It must be almost impossible to report on events such as these without a tone of "I told you so." And yet a journalist should try.
IanG (DC)
The 'tampon tax' was already scheduled to expire in the EU (see https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-35834142), so even citing that as a gain is specious.
Ben (New York)
The lone cyclist on the chalky trail in Dover is wonderful.
dave (portland)
This year has really clarified for how little our leaders understand the world around us and how little they care. The U.K. has had years to get ready for this, even if the details weren't known. Many in the U.S. sit in shock over what trump and his followers have just done, but we had years of lead-up. The Health Authority here in Oregon is just now sending out emails with information regarding the "upcoming planning phase for vaccine roll-out." How was this not planned for and finished MONTHS AGO? It's just astounding the ignorance, arrogance, and lack of foresight in our leaders and ourselves. And we keep electing them.
Andrew (Canada)
@dave In Canada the reason so much public initiative is slow or clumsy is because we insist on treating public servants so poorly. We publish their names and salaries in the newspaper (right down to the local fireman or lifeguard), we scream if they ever award themselves raises and we are never satisfied with their performance. It's no wonder that a huge proportion of people that volunteer to run for office are a motley collection of used car salesmen and self-interested activists. High performing individuals go work in the private sector where they get REWARDED for their performance. That's why the private sector could develop the vaccine, and the public sector is incapable of distributing it.
Richard from Philly (Philadelphia)
@Andrew We should remember that the design of the vaccine originated with a Dr. Barney Graham and others of the NIH using an mRNA technique which has been around for 18 years. It is true that the private sector developed it for manufacture, but saying they developed it is like crediting Coco Chanel's seamstress for her designs.
Bibi (CA)
@dave My son's inlaws in Colorado have already received their shots (age, late 60's); I have received no information on plans regarding when I will be eligible for the vaccine; count yourself lucky.
Larry L (Dallas, TX)
It's undeniable that the U.K. is in the last leg of its decline. In another generation, no one will care.
Mattie (Western MA)
@Larry L Next good thing UK should do: Privatize health care.
Alessandro (Trento)
Well, it was all about ‘We are better than them’ right from the beginning. It’s so weird that on continental Europe, regardless of where you are, the idea of bein a european, to show solidarity, to realize that yes, we are a very diverse continent, not a monolith, but beautiful and full of great peoples, well this inclusive idea, that is all what Europe is about, the brits never liked it. I am so glad and proud of living on this side of the Channel, you have no idea what it feels to corss borders and fly with just and ID, learning foreign languages, making foreign friends, feeling closer, so much closer than our grandparents felt. I am italian, i live 150km away from Austria, I love my austrian friends, I adore the germans, I go to Spain and Portugal as much as I can, I go to France, I love Greece, I feel part of a big project, a big experiment, not perfect but valuable. I never, never, never really understood what Brexit was about but hey, it was their decision so good luck to them all!
greg (Atlanta)
Having lived in England during the 2016 referendum, it was baffling as to reasoning of the UK leaving the EU. Always seemed like an overly simplistic solution to very complex problems.
Niall (3rd Stone from the Sun)
An Irish business I occasionally patronize had the good sense to move their distribution center out of Northern Ireland and back into Ireland long before Brexit. One wonders why so many British businesses didn't see this coming. Be careful what you wish for.
Matthew (Manchester)
@Niall why? There is not border between NI and Eire!
P Mattson (Colorado)
The approval of Brexit was almost as shocking as the "reign" of Trump. The repercussions of this decision made by those who are angry looking backwards will be with the UK for the foreseeable future. Having seen it both ways, the UK isn't nearly as charming on it's own as it was as part of something that was bigger than itself.
Andy (Yarmouth ME)
I've followed Brexit closely since the start. It has always reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from the noted philosopher and essayist Jack Handey: "I remember how my great-uncle Jerry would sit on the porch and whittle all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint, because he had whittled off the paint."
mmcshane (Dallas)
@Andy Excellent. Nicely done.
Robin (Toronto, Canada)
@Andy perfect. Love Jack Handey. Now I will spend the rest of the afternoon dredging up my favourite quotations. My old fave: “instead of answers on a math test, let’s have impressions”
WK (Ithaca)
@Andy You must be awfully tired.
Lcall (NY)
America, for now, has escaped the national isolationism of trumpism. Britain, unfortunately, let it got too far. I hope America is paying attention.
Ben (New York)
@Lcall Wait, you mean we're still in the EU?
Andrew (Canada)
@Lcall Build the wall!
KeninDFW (DFW)
This also demonstrates that shifting your country on nifty slogans doesn’t work. “Take Back Control” and “Make America Great Again” has consequences. Now Britain has not only a mountain of new paperwork and regulation just to trade with the continent, it’ll have more as it attempts to trade directly with other nations as well. I feel the British appeal will fade quickly much like America’s reputation has drastically diminished under a President who doesn’t believe in facts.
Andrew (Canada)
@KeninDFW In the before times I used to travel through Heathrow frequently because it was a great place to connect to the rest of the EU. I doubt that will be the case anymore. I'm winding down my British Airways loyalty program and gonna start a new one with a different European carrier. There will be billions of examples of negative changes like this for Britain.
EvaLee (Arnhem Netherlands)
@KeninDFW For many of us was Brexit like: the perfidious Albion got what it wanted: splendid isolation. Will Brittania ever rule the waves? Don’t think so.... But throughout it is a great loss. Sorry for the remainers ...
AJ (Midwest)
It is too bad that the businesses here, and the urban areas of Britain writ large, are tied to the petty grievances of the rural and uneducated. Sounds like another place I know....
Rosemary (Colorado)
@AJ Classic city mouse/country mouse. China has the same problem.
Todd (Frisco)
Right-wing media has corrupted British minds just as it has American, and now an unacceptable portion of British people make decisions that are counterproductive to their own lives, just like in American, ultimately in service of the one-percenter interests who control that media, again, just like in America. In short, Robert Murdoch and the monied interests aligned with him use right wing propaganda to sew chaos that they can profit from. And England, like America, is suffering as a result. In the future, these dark times will not be the story of rising nationalism, but of social brainwashing through right wing media and unchecked social media.
Caroline (Paris,France)
@Todd Don't forget the cohorts of Kremlin paid trolls hiding behind VPNs pretending to be British patriots and chanting on English tabloids "Rule Britannia" ! Most British people only read British tabloids like the Daily Mail or the Daily Express or the Sun.
bernard (France)
The UK is finding out that acts have consequences. You cannot deliver a personal insult to each and every European by voting to leave our European Union and hope to leave in bliss ever after. As for the idea floated by so many who think the UK will eventually realize their mistake and request to join the EU again, of course they will realize and will want to apply again. In this respect, the Constitution of France is now very clear (articles 88-5 and 89): any law allowing a new country to join is subject to a popular referendum or to the same procedure governing altering the constitution. I certainly would not like to be the President asking the French to allow the UK back in the Union. As for the other procedure, this was used to override the results of a referendum regarding European integration in 2005 and has become infamous as regards European matters as it can be argued that it is to a large extent at the root of the increasing disconnect between many French and mainstream politics. So, forget the UK being admitted again in the EU in the foreseeable future. They will have to live with their mistake for decades to come.
SJP (Europe)
Sovereignty means the UK can now try to undercut its European neighbors on a range of regulation (genetics, financials, labor...), hence the dream of becoming a kind of Singapore or Cayman on Thames. Given the Uk's social structure, this means the benefits of sovereignty will probably only accrue to a minority (one percent) of already rich British people. For the others, I'm not sure there will be many benefits. but hey, elections do have consequences!
bernard (France)
@SJP I am not sure you have read the trade agreement between the UK and the European Union. Should they do as you suggest they are free to do, there would be costs involved with, conceivably the cancellation of free trade and the return of custom duties as per the WTO. The EU is currently about 45% of the UK's export market, the impact on their exports could rapidly be horrendous. As they say, the EU is not without resources.
Neil (Vancouver)
Easy to see the downside. Not sure what the upside is, unless it is some sort of (false) American style exceptionalism that the British also are under the illusion they posses.
SD (Arizona)
@Neil The British (especially the English) never got over their sense of self-importance egged on by a couple of centuries of imperialism. Most people outside the UK have clearly seen Great Britain's transformation back to Little England. Many in England (primarily the rural, the under-educated, the less-travelled) have not.
Ben (New York)
@Neil Readers of this paper clearly want the failure of Brexit to be as resounding as possible, possibly because then they won't be pressed to address or even acknowledge the problems that led to Brexit in the first place.
Todd (Frisco)
@Neil The upside is far-right self-righteousness, something that people who watch right-wing media prize over all else.
Fritz Lauenstein (Dennis Port, Mass.)
In all seriousness, if the snarls and headaches of sovereignty become ever more dire, one solution may be that Britain apply to the EU for membership. If that were to happen, I would think that the EU would demand that Britain give up their sacred pound currency. Short of that, Brexit will continue to apply pressure upon Northern Ireland, perhaps re-uniting it with Ireland. So many unforeseen consequences resulting from a nationalist spasm. The USA could learn a thing or two from watching this assault on global cooperation. Be careful what you wish for.
SD (Arizona)
@Fritz Lauenstein Unfortunately, the ultra-nationalists anywhere don't read thoughtful articles in newspapers. They are swayed by sensational soundbites by demagogues like Trump and Farage. There is a higher chance of me becoming the Pope than America's nativists learning from watching the assault on global cooperation. Sad...
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