On the sixth anniversary of Brexit, the UK has yet to seize all the opportunities of freedom


Six years ago, on June 23, 2016, Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. Above all, Brexit was about reclaiming the right to autonomy, which is a fundamental value.

It was not inevitable that Brexit would lead to better government in Britain. It opened the door for Britain to do better, but Britain still had to walk through that door.

Six years later, the results are mixed. Of course, no one expected the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts will forever debate its impact on Britain and the British economy, but COVID-19 makes it difficult to understand exactly how Britain has done.

Certainly Brexit has given a huge boost to Britain’s efforts to develop and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine. Cut off from the EU, which was floundering and playing the blame game, Britain led the world in delivering an effective vaccine to its people.

Led by then Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who now heads the Foreign Office, Britain has also used its new freedom to negotiate remarkably well. commercial agreements. He is set to join the Pacific Trade Pact led by Australia and Japan, which would be a major coup. It’s part of Britain’s Brexit wider back to the Pacific region.

True, trade with the EU has suffered, but not seriously. But when it comes to trade, Brexit is a sensible long-term bet. It is better to trade more and more freely with a growing Asia than to remain attached to the relatively small EU market.

Britain has also reformed its immigration system, but it is still blocked by the European Court of Human Rights in dealing with refugees. The tribunal allows France to break international law by sending refugees to Britain, but cracks down on the UK. It’s the kind of thing that led to Brexit in the first place.

But Britain has created a new visa system that gives it access to top academic talent from around the world. He couldn’t have done that in the EU. The fact that this system was immediately condemned as “racist” was as predictable as it was unfair.

Many of the disappointing things UK governments have done since 2016 have little to do with Brexit. British government expenses is out of control, and he raised taxes. But Britain could have done these things, whether inside or outside the EU.

But that’s not the worst. Unfortunately, the British government has also used its newfound freedoms to impose many new, mostly nonsensical regulations, such as giving octopus rights. Nor did he take great strides to free himself from harmful and costly European regulations.

At least some of this hesitation is the result of Brexit’s worst deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol. Could have been a sensible way to deal with the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and therefore outside the EU, but also shares an open border with Ireland, which is still in the EU.

But predictably, the EU has used the protocol to twist the knife, clamping down on trade between the British mainland and Northern Ireland. This severely damaged Northern Ireland’s economy and made the UK reluctant to deviate from EU regulations as it would further worsen Northern Ireland’s position.

But the fundamental problem is that while Brexit took Britain out of the EU and (ultimately) gave it a new Prime Minister who believes in Brexit, Brexit did not give Britain a new public service, new media or a new ruling class. And ultimately, people are politics.

There are of course many honorable exceptions. But on the whole, the people who govern Britain live in London and hate Brexit. They don’t see Brexit as an opportunity to be seized, but as a revolt of the masses – a revolt that must be ignored, minimized or suppressed.

As the American founders recognized, freedom is what you make of it. This is the difficulty with freedom.

It’s much better to be free. Brexit has given Britain the freedom to make its own choices. This did not guarantee that Britain would make these choices correctly.

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