The waiters can sometimes be a little surly. That holiday villa you booked in the Loire may not always be as desirable as it looked in the pictures. And you can never be entirely sure which side they will be on in a major war. Still, despite occasional inconsistencies, there is one thing you could always rely on the French for. They will insist forever that leaving the EU has been a catastrophe for the British economy, and by far the stupidest decision any major country has ever made.
But hold on. What’s this? In a note this morning BNP Paribas, a bank right at the heart of the French establishment, finally admitted Brexit had not made much difference. At this rate, perhaps even the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will be arguing it was all fairly irrelevant all along.
Written by Stephane Colliac, a senior economist with France’s largest financial institution, the note does not exactly break new ground. But it does take an objective look at the data since the 2016 referendum and crunch some of the numbers on what has happened since to foreign investment, labour movements, and business confidence.
‘It is generally assumed that Brexit has made the United Kingdom less attractive economically,’ argues Colliac. ‘However, data on the balance of payments and foreign workers reveal that it’s not as simple as that.’
Indeed not. As the note argues, while the UK has become a less attractive destination for European workers, it has become more attractive to people from other parts of the world. Likewise, despite predictions that leaving the EU would lead to a 22 per cent fall in foreign investment in the 10 years after leaving, it has actually gone up slightly.