Brexit: The evidence that leaving the European Union was a bad idea just keeps pouring in – Angus Robertson

Every now and again the full, ongoing Brexit disaster is illustrated in technicolour. New evidence has been published showing how appalling it is for the economy, exports, jobs and the health service.

In recent days, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its economic forecasts showing that the United Kingdom has the worst economic prospects amongst G20 countries, with the exception of Russia which is the subject of crippling international sanctions for invading Ukraine. Uniquely, the UK will be alone among the 38 members of the OECD to have a smaller economy in 2024 than in 2019.

In comparison, every single one of Scotland’s neighbouring countries will do significantly better. The best performer, according to the OECD, will be independent Ireland, followed by Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

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Scotland’s economic woes are a combination of UK economic mismanagement and Brexit, imposed on Scotland despite a 62 per cent vote to remain in the biggest single market in the world.

According to new research by the Centre for Business prosperity at Aston University, Brexit has resulted in a 22.9 per cent slump in UK exports to the European Union. Things are even worse amongst certain product varieties which have seen a drop of 42 per cent in exports to the EU during the 15 months after January 2021.

The author of the study, Professor Jun Du, said: “The evidence we present here shows the real loss of Brexit, the overall competitiveness of the UK as a global trader. The considerable contraction of the UK trade capacity, combined with an increased concentration of export values to fewer products, signify some serious long-term concerns about the UK’s future exporting and productivity.”

In a double whammy, UK trade has also seen a hit to non-EU countries. Exports to Japan have slumped since the first major post-Brexit trade deal with a drop in both goods and services. Former Trade Secretary (and Prime Minister) Liz Truss signed the “historic” deal with Japan in October 2020, describing it as a “landmark moment for Britain”.

It was falsely claimed that it would boost trade by billions of pounds and help the UK recover from the pandemic. The Japan trade deal was followed by one with Australia which has been described by the former UK Environment Secretary George Eustice as “not actually a very good deal for the UK”.

An anti-Brexit protester makes a point outside the Westminster parliament (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, another study found that Brexit has worsened the shortage of NHS doctors with more than 4,000 European medics choosing not to work in the health service since the UK left the EU. The Nuffield Trust, which conducted the research, said that the reduction was because EU-trained medics now face extra bureaucracy and higher costs as a direct result of Brexit.

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Scotland’s future is a straight choice between Brexit Britain and Scottish independence in the European Union. Sadly all the main UK parties – Tories, Labour and Lib Dems – are pro-Brexit. These are the same parties that are blocking Scottish democracy and denying the people a referendum.

Last year voters in Scotland elected a record pro-referendum majority to the Scottish Parliament. Democracy denial for Scotland is an unsustainable position for the Westminster parliament and parties as well as damaging for the international reputation of the UK.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary