peterbirks: (Default)
 The Food Programme on R4 at lunchtime was an interesting "single issue" take on the referendum with, I thought, a balanced look at the pros and cons.
One thing that struck me was that English farmers clearly depend on cheap east European labour. While the "establishment" warned that prices would rise, the Brexiteer made (I thought) the valid point that it was only economic to grow stuff like turnips and wheat because of cheap labour. It would be better for us to import it (he said) and focus on "added value" or "high margin" products.
The irony of this of course (this referendum is full of ironies) is that the guy on the Remain side was effectively arguing the importance of self-sufficiency in food (the "little Englander" approach) while the Brexiteer was arguing the benefits of global trade, and that "self-sufficiency" in food was an attitude that belonged to the second World War.
Although most farmers (understandably) were keen to remain, the programme fairly interviewed minority groups such as Scottish fishermen, who were elated at the prospect of departing. It also looked at the case of New Zealand, where subsidies disappeared overnight a few decades ago, causing dislocation and a refocusing away from sheep towards beef. But the net result was (eventually) positive.
That is the second obvious irony of the referendum is that those most likely to gain from Brexit are the British young (but they can't see it) while those most likely to lose are the old (and they certainly can't see it).
Already we've seen Carney say that the BoE will likely pump money into the economy (more QE), and cut interest rates. Osborne has effectively scrapped austerity economics. And now Ros Altman (pensions minister) has said that companies will not be pressured too hard to plug pensions gaps in the near future.
These statements, relatively unsurprising (I'd predicted three of them, and the fourth hadn't occurred to me) were what made many of the predictions of independent experts -- much cited by Remainers -- ludicrous; the scenarios made no allowance for government or BoE intervention.

August 2017

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