Brexit: Was It a Good or Bad Decision?

The Brexit debate triggered emotions on all sides as people argued about its advantages and disadvantages. But what has happened to the economy since the decision was made?

A fear of Brexit

Many fears about Brexit focussed on the jobs that would be lost and the investment that could flow out of the country to other locations. But in the early months since those in favour of leaving the EU won the vote the worst predictions of wholesale job losseshave proven to be less dramatic. In fact, employment figures have increased and continue to climb as unemployment drops to historic levels. Workers too are seeing an increase in wages as those earning the least benefit from a drop in income inequality as a result of a rise in the National Living Wage. The number of workers from other EU and non-EU countries has surprisingly risen rather than fallen as predicted by many commentators in the run up to the election. The reality of what is happening on the ground doesn’t always hit the headlines or grab the attention. But post-Brexit uncertainty about jobs and the number of people choosing to come into the UK seems to be less of a concern. Not least because companies in every sector face the challenge of recruiting the people they need to run the business.

A big surprise

The surprise of course is that the world did not end when the UK voted to leave the EU but that businesses continued to compete and perform in the marketplace. Investment, albeit at lower levels, continued as new start-up businesses and entrepreneurs find opportunities in the predicted turmoil of a post-Brexit environment. The reality of the contrast between what is happening and what people feared would happen will be reconciled in the years ahead. But at this point there are more businesses looking for more people with more skills than at any time in recent memory. A shortage of people with the right skills is repeatedly highlighted as the key challenge facing the business sector. How long such a healthy surplus of jobs will last is difficult to estimate but in the present climate it is equally difficult to bet against the continuation of widespread shortages.

Employers will of course have to pay staff higher wages and invest in training to retain employees. Traditionally low paid jobs in the caring and other sectors will need to be re-valued to reflect the important role they play in the economy. And in time even the most ardent critics of Brexit may be surprised by how the economy performs on the global stage.

So, the decision to leave the EU was taken and the next decade will prove its value to the economy and the millions of people who work in it.