Open Europe have released a report outlining what a Brexit would look like economically – and from any sort of Eurosceptic standpoint, it’s not pleasant reading. It outlines four scenarios post-Brexit; they range from economically catastrophic to economically slightly positive. And the one in which Britain fares the best involves deregulating everything and having essentially open borders.
It should be noted here that Open Europe are hardly a bunch of raving Euro federalists by any stretch of the imagination. They are generally seen as mildly Eurosceptic, actually. So for them to be painting apocalyptic Brexit scenarios is particularly interesting. And how bad is the worst case scenario? A loss of 2.23% of GDP; in monetary terms, that’s £60 billion a year. Mats Persson describes this scenario as “mutual destruction” – mutual, because it would damage the single market as well, meaning the pain could be even worse over time.
Another scenario is if Britain somehow manages to “do a Switzerland” as many a Eurosceptic pines for. But even here, Britain would be worse off by £20 billion a year. Added to this, the report makes an interesting observation: “The Swiss model is bilateral, free trade agreements. But they are forced to accept free movement as the prize to get market access to the EU…”
This goes along with what is not mentioned whenever “alternatives” like Norway and Switzerland are brought up by Eurosceptics: both have what amounts to open borders with the EU. The Swiss people voted in a referendum to limit this last year, but even now, it’s still not clear how they can implement this and remain in the single market. As the Open Europe report says: “They are now involved in very complex negotiations with the EU. So far the EU has said we are not going to negotiate over this. Switzerland is in a very tricky position.”
Very few within Eurosceptic circles as they are currently formed will be able to respond coherently to Open Europe’s findings. The only one that springs to mind is actually Douglas Carswell, who will I’m sure rather like the idea of the ex-EU Britain that has grown by 1.55% in terms of GDP, by shrinking the state, deregulating almost everything and basically throwing open the borders to anyone.
What’s very clear is that exiting the EU and shutting the borders would lead to economic suicide for the country. Staying in the single market would be incompatible with shutting down immigration completely. These things were already known to many of us, but given the strength of UKIP style propaganda on these matters, it’s nice for the truth to be pushed more and more often.