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Making the best of a bad Brexit

Willem H. Buiter
Willem H. Buiter12/30/2019 10:08 AM GMT+08  • 5 min read
Making the best of a bad Brexit
(Dec 30): The United Kingdom’s general election this month not only settled the question of Brexit, but also put paid to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s extreme vision of socialism. Corbyn’s electoral demise comes as a relief to all who reject t
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(Dec 30): The United Kingdom’s general election this month not only settled the question of Brexit, but also put paid to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s extreme vision of socialism. Corbyn’s electoral demise comes as a relief to all who reject the Venezuelan economic model: if it moves, regulate it; if it still moves, tax it; and if it’s still twitching after that, nationalise it. The UK has been spared a very costly five-year diversion. It is little wonder that markets heaved a sigh of relief following the Tories’ overwhelming victory.

To be sure, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s economic-policy programme is also far removed from the pro-market, small-government tradition of Margaret Thatcher. His government will spend more, tax more, and pursue some populist-style interventions in markets and industries. Still, its approach will be nowhere near as radical as what Corbyn proposed.

Johnson now must carry out the Brexit that he has long championed. The exit agreement with the European Union centres around four primary issues: Britain’s future financial contributions to the EU budget; the treatment of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa; Northern Ireland’s place in the EU customs union and single market; and the continuing jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

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