The EU is Britain’s largest trading partner by a country mile. The continued importance of the City as one of the world’s major financial centers in no small part rests on the frictionless movement of money and trade between Britain and the EU. The notion that Britain can recreate some sort of Anglosphere trading zone, a sort of new mercantile empire, is absurd. No mere trade deal, not even one with countries like the US, Canada and Japan, will ever replace the frictionless nature of the Common Market. Why do you think all the Brexiters and Soft Leavers are suddenly all singing the praises of the Norway model? Brexit will not see British sovereignty increased, it will see it diminished, as it becomes a beggar, hat in hand, going to Washington, Tokyo, Adelaide, Ottawa, and yes, to Brussels itself, trying to remove as many trade barriers as possible. It will no longer have a seat at the table of the entity which has dominated its commerce since the end of its Empire?
And that’s not even talking about what it internally means for the UK. The threat to the Good Friday Agreement is visceral, and will either lead to a new round of Troubles, after such a hardwon peace, or see Ireland united. And if the backstop remains, and an open border exists between Northern Ireland and Ireland, then Scotland will rightly demand that its border with the EU also remain open. Brexit inevitably means the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, one of the most successful political unions in history. And for what? Some Romanian nurses and Polish carpenters? As it is, Britain has a challenge fulfilling its labor needs, and now suddenly a hard border appears that not only raises the costs of doing business with its chief trading partners (and sees the flight of many companies to either Ireland or the Continent so as to not lose their advantage), and Britain has to enter the world of immigration competition, competing against nations like the US?
Brexit is bad. There’s nothing good about it. It doesn’t make Britain more free. It doesn’t build its economy. It doesn’t solve a single problem. It started as part of the endless war of entrenched anti-European sentiment within the Conservative Party, and now threatens not only the British economy, but the very existence of the United Kingdom itself. May has delivered the only possible deal that has any chance of preventing the worst consequences of Brexit, and guess what, it’s a horrible deal, with its only virtue resting on the fact that all the other potential outcomes either being impossible (Norway does not want their limited influence within the common Market diluted by the much larger British economy), or so reckless that it’s hard not to see how you couldn’t describe such options as insane.