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Voters count cost of Brexit six years after Leave ballot

·1-min read
Wakefield Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed campaigns in the city centre with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Jenkyns (Lee McLean/SWNS)
Wakefield Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed campaigns in the city centre with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Jenkyns (Lee McLean/SWNS)

Six years on to the day from the historic vote that detached planet Britain from Brussels’ gravitational pull — and once again voters are going to the polls.

Both today’s by-elections are in heavily Leave-voting areas, Wakefield where 66% chose to quit the EU, and Tiverton and Honiton, where 58% did.

Yet both are likely to give Boris Johnson a bloody nose today and throw out Conservative MPs.

Brexit is not of course top of mind for most voters. All sorts of other factors such as Partygate and the cost of living crisis are at play.

And it is still hard to disentangle the impact of Brexit — which only really kicked in at the end of the transition period on December 31 2020 — from all the other economic noise generated by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

But some things we do know. Business investment is down, the pound remains stuck well below pre-Referendum levels, growth has been feeble.

London with its world-leading finance, tech and, increasingly, life science sectors, appears to be recovering well from the pandemic and looks best placed to prosper in or out of the EU. It is a city that welcomes and inspires wealth creators arguably more successfully than any on Earth.

Only now with the Covid fog starting to lift will we start to get a clearer idea of how Brexit is affecting business, the economy and consumers. As many feared at the time, it is Remain-voting areas such as London that will most easily brush off the shock of Britain’s exit from the EU.

And it is those that voted to Leave, such as Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton, that have most to lose.

@JonPrynn

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