Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Step back from the Brexit abyss

The economic wasteland of a no-deal Brexit awaits us should the government continue to refuse to engage with our European partners on good terms, writes Seb Dance MEP

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report last week which said that the United Kingdom economy would receive a significant boost if the Brexit process was reversed. More than that, it said that a ‘no deal’ would have profound economic consequences, including the pound hitting new lows.

This is not a case of the ‘usual suspects’ trying to defy the will of the people. This a major and influential grouping of the world’s biggest developed and emerging economies, warning of the likely outcome of the UK government’s current course of action. We would all do well to take heed of this report. The OECD’s opinion should not be taken lightly, they are offering a stark reality- a hard Brexit means ‘long term economic decline.’

At the Labour party conference last month, I met with representatives from a range of sectors of the UK economy, and I heard the same thing time and time again. Whether it was the automotive industry, universities or medical research organisations, they all had the same view on Brexit – whatever happened, they needed total regulatory convergence in their field. If all these sectors started talking to each other and realised they all had the same ultimate goal, and began speaking with a united voice, we might begin to get a real idea of the challenge we face.

Throughout the referendum campaign we heard the same refrain from the Leavers, ‘take back control.’ If it was ever in doubt, that is now being shown up for the nonsense it always was. A hard Brexit would be disastrous, but any post-Brexit trade deal with the EU will see us having to accept EU rules without the say we have now, we will have lost our voice around the table. Far from taking back control, we will have handed power over to Brussels.

However, with the government once again irresponsibly raising the spectre of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, The Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan’s new ‘think tank’, the Institute for Free Trade, is pushing for tariffs to be slashed. Such a course of action would be nothing short of catastrophic.

Domestic producers would be destroyed as our exports would be frozen out of most markets and the UK market would be flooded with cheap, low quality products. Successful businesses, already close to implementing ‘no deal’ contingency plans because of the shambolic handling of the negotiations by the Tory government, will leave, with little chance of new industry popping up to replace them.

Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Hannan and their fellow travellers might be happy with such a situation, but all of us who wish to see our country continue to be a successful, outward-looking, progressive force for good in the world will be rightly appalled at the prospect of a bargain-basement Britain.

The choice we will face in the coming months is clear. The UK can carry on not taking the negotiations seriously, hurtling towards a cliff edge and the economic wasteland of a no-deal Brexit. Alternatively, we can engage properly with our European partners and friends, reach a deal that is as close as possible to our current economic relationship, accepting that this will actually mean giving the EU control in some areas.

Or, we can think again and take a step back from the abyss. We need to make the case to the British people that, if we really do want to ‘take back control’, we need to keep our seat around the top table and retain our position as a major, progressive European power.


Seb Dance is a member of the European parliament. He tweets at @SebDance



Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.

It takes time, commitment and money to build a fight against the forces of conservatism. If you value the work Progress does, please support us by becoming a member, subscriber or donating.

Our work depends on you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Seb Dance MEP


  • Of course future negotiations will be jeopardised if Labour MEPs continue with their tactics of putting a halt to progress to further talks about future trade with the EU.

    This decision will retain a lasting memory to impact on those individuals who are seemingly putting their own circumstances before future trade talks.

    If they were ever to reach the stage of sabotaging a deal, I would project that former Labour voters in the Midlands and the North will never be secure for Labour in the future. It only takes a percentage to have permanent effect. At the same time their is no increase in Labour support elsewhere. But maybe the attitude of: “If we (MEPs) go down then we might as well all go down,” is satisfactory outcome for some individuals.

  • Does Seb Dance really believe that things are going to go back to the way they were?

    The genie is out of the bottle now, and the EU is moving on towards a more integrated set-up requiring a central treasury and taxation system – and much, much more.

    If the UK revokes Article 50, it will not be returning to the EU it has voted to leave.

    And if that will be the case, how are we to achieve it in the face of a pretty disgruntled part of the population?

    The Lisbon Treaty was most probably the deciding factor for a Leave vote; and another attempt by Labour at that type of manoeuvre will see Labour out of power for another generation.

Sign up to our daily roundup email