Sam Leith Sam Leith

The evolving phenomenon of ‘Brexit regret’

Credit: Getty images

It was reported this weekend that the great trans-Pacific trade deal (CPTPP), the one that Lord Cameron just boasted would ‘put the UK at the heart of a group of some of the world’s most dynamic economies’, will boost our economy by practically nothing at all. The OBR reckons CPTPP will put 0.04 per cent on our GDP over fifteen years.

The bilateral deals with Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, are predicted to give a 0.1 per cent uplift. This is better, but still, hardly the piratical free trade bonanza we were encouraged to expect. A gold-plated special-friends deal with the USA shows no signs of materialising.

To what extent has pro-Brexit feeling shifted from being a political phenomenon to being a psychological one?

The same OBR continues to predict that we’re all going to be 4 per cent worse off than we would have been had we stayed in the EU. Even if you regard the OBR as a cabal of gloomadon-popping Rejoiner propagandists, these figures should give you pause, shouldn’t they?

Unless they are wrong by orders of magnitude – unless the OBR aren’t just putting a thumb on the scales but making their figures up completely, and in face of all the evidence – these trade deals are duds. In fairness, there are countercurrents: Nissan has just said that Brexit has not damaged its UK operations and they’re staying here for the long haul. But ‘not as bad as we’d feared’ is a step down from ‘a great improvement’. The general trend seems clear.

Even the viewers of GB News, not on the whole the most Europhile constituency in the country, seem to be cottoning on. A poll for the channel last year on whether viewers would vote for or against Brexit again, given the chance, returned 55 per cent for Remain against 45 per cent for leave.

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