'Will Brexit be a success? Academics devise tests to find out,' Katie Allen, The Guardian
Britain’s exit from the EU must make the country more prosperous and fair, maintain an open economy and increase people’s democratic rights, a group of academics has urged in a list of four tests for making a success of Brexit.
As Theresa May prepares for a parliamentary vote that is expected to sanction the triggering of the article 50 process to leave the EU, the thinktank The UK in a Changing Europe has set out criteria for uniting leave and remain supporters.
Its report, entitled A Successful Brexit: Four Economic Tests, outlines a framework for judging whether Brexit has been successful, and that the group of academics feels should be guiding principles throughout talks to leave the EU.
“We need to move beyond platitudes to focus on likely outcomes for individuals, families, businesses and the country as a whole,” the report says.
“To find out whether we are headed for a successful Brexit, we need to know not just what Brexit means, but what constitutes ‘success’ and what ‘works’. For this, we need an agreed set of ‘tests’ against which we can evaluate the government’s plan, the EU’s position, and what emerges during the negotiations.”
Launching the report, Andrew Tyrie, the chair of parliament’s cross-party Treasury committee called for his colleagues in government to be more open about what they wanted out of Brexit negotiations. ““Brexit is not poker,” he said, as he repeated a call for the UK to consider transitional arrangements under article 50 that would smooth the process of leaving the EU.
Being upfront about what the UK wanted out of negotiations could help the UK because business partners in Europe would be able to get behind Britain’s view and make a case to their own governments, he said.
“I fail to understand why our chances of getting a good deal will not be enhanced ... by demonstrating what it is we really need,.”
He also emphasised the importance of retaining easy trade access to the rest of Europe but denied that amounted to an attack on May’s decision to exit the single market, confirmed in her speech on Brexit earlier this month.
“Whether the UK makes a success of Brexit, whether it passes your tests ... depends predominantly on how successful it is in retaining access to EU markets,” he said.
But pressed on whether that put him at odds with May, he said: “I am not attacking my prime minister. I think she gave a magnificent speech the other day.”
The four tests set out on Monday were:
• The economy and public finances: A successful Brexit will make the country more prosperous overall and will “improve its ability to finance public services”, the report said.
• Fairness. “A successful Brexit will be one that helps those who have done worst and promotes opportunity and social mobility for all across the UK, but particularly for the most disadvantaged.”
• Will Brexit preserve and extend the UK’s openness as an economy? “A successful Brexit will be one that maintains and enhances the UK’s position as an open economy and society.”
• Will Brexit enhance democratic control? “A successful Brexit will be one that genuinely increases citizens’ control over their own lives.”
Anand Menon, professor of politics at King’s College London and director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “As we start to consider the practical impact of Brexit, there needs to be a clear, evidence-based and, as far as possible, objective mechanism for assessment. What is important is that the credibility of the tests, and the process, are established in the minds of the public at large.
“We are now entering a period when the choices we make, collectively, will determine our future for decades. We all have a stake in making a success of Brexit. But to do that we need to have a shared vision of what success means and these tests lay the groundwork for that objective judgment.”
The group, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council(ESRC), and based at King’s College London, said its tests were based on points of shared interest between the leave and remain camps, including that the wish that “Britain should remain an open, outward-looking country”.
But the authors cautioned that as negotiations unfold each side would probably attempt to put their own spin on developments and on the emerging economic data. That likelihood strengthened the case for setting out tests for success now, they added.
“Having an agreed set of criteria in advance will make it easier to assess developments in an objective fashion. Developing such a framework now, in advance both of the negotiations and of Brexit itself, will minimise the temptation to move the goalposts later,” the report said.
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