We’ve all done things we regret in life, where any attempt to salvage the situation will just end up making it worse for all concerned.
Maybe we’ve done the sitcom classic of setting up two dates on the same night, and half-arsed both to the point of ruining each of them.
Or maybe we’ve agreed to play a charity football match or run a marathon while injured, after convincing ourselves we don’t want to let people down only to make our injuries worse and keep us out of action for the foreseeable future.
Are these all clumsy metaphors for a Brexit which will either leave us worse off or a lot worse off? Of course.
According to independent research, seen by The Guardian, the UK would lose a minimum of about £17bn per year by 2033-34 by leaving the EU – that figure relates to the best possible deal envisaged, while Theresa May’s preferred bespoke deal would cost more than twice as much.
Conducted for thinktank Global Future by King’s College, London professor Jonathan Portes, looks at four potential scenarios: a Norway deal; a Canada deal; May’s bespoke deal; and exiting with no deal at all.
Since the 2016 referendum, which saw 52% of voters back a move to leave the EU and 48% on the other side, there has been plenty of debate and confusion around what form the departure could take.
A ‘transition deal’ has been agreed, set to begin when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, but there are still plenty of dissenting voices keen for the country to change its mind.
And, given the potential cost of it all, it’s easy to see why people have reservations.
The Norway deal would cost an estimated £17bn per year, while Prime Minister May’s bespoke deal carries an estimated cost of £40bn per year, or £615m per week at 2018 prices – a figure deemed too high by more than two thirds of the leave voters polled by Global Future.
That’s not the most expensive potential deal, though: a Canada-style deal, based on Free Trade Agreement rules, is estimated to lead to £57bn in extra annual borrowing, while leaving the EU with no deal agreed – leaving the UK at the mercy of World Trade Organisation rules – ups the figure to £81bn. Yeah, that’s a lot.
Based on polling of 2,000 people presented with the options, there was an “overwhelming” agreement that all four options were bad. The Norway deal – with the lowest impact on public resources, but also the fewest additional controls on immigration – was preferred by the leave voters polled in relation to the report.
“If we are to decide what sort of Brexit we want, the least we need is a menu, with prices,” Fortes said.
“The one we have prepared represents the government’s current best estimates. It’s up to us to decide which of these prices is worth paying.”