By Harry Mottram: Both the Tories of Rishi Sunak and the Labour Party of Kier Starmer are in denial about Brexit and the way it has hit travel and trade. By any measure it has been a disaster for the UK economy with even the Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility have assessed the economy to be down by around 4% due to leaving the EU trading block.


The political party that is most associated with business has turned its back on trade in an ideological shift to the right driven by a Little Englander mentality and a belief history can be turned back to pre-Common Market times. It hasn’t worked. Since 2016 and the narrow referendum victory we have seen businesses closing operations in the UK and moving them to the continent, a political crisis in Northern Ireland, recruitment problems in a variety of sectors and travel restrictions for tourists and businesspeople. And as for the promises of lower prices, higher wages and the UK becoming the Singapore of the Atlantic – forget it. And I haven’t mentioned the £250 million a week for the NHS that was emblazoned on a bus during the referendum campaign.


Advocates of Brexit have found a range of things to blame for its failures – from Covid to Putin and from Remainers to the EU itself. From Project Fear to Project Reality the Brexit promised by the likes of Gove and Johnson have not materialised – and the blame lies at the door of the Government as it was their business deal that was brokered.


What to do? The recently floated idea of a Switzerland style deal with the EU was the first sensible notion floated by insiders in Whitehall. If you travel from France into the land of the Cuckoo Clock there are no obvious border controls since it’s a member of the Schengen Area. Everyday people commute to work without passport checks between the two countries and although there are some checks these are minimal – unless you are from the UK of course. Joining the Schengen zone is one obvious way to improve travel – not just for tourists but for workers which would help alleviate recruitment in the UK in hospitality, farming, medical and the logistic sectors.


Only the Lib Dems, Scottish Nationalists and other smaller political parties like the Green Party are in favour of rejoining the EU and unless there is a political earthquake they are unlikely to form the next Government. However, if Labour win the expected 2024 election then according to their current position they don’t plan to rejoin but instead would negotiate a ‘better Brexit.’

New deal

The most obvious thing to do – if our two main political parties had any backbone – would be to square with the public and business and outline the facts: Brexit hasn’t delivered. And prepare the ground to either rejoin the EU or negotiate a halfway house with an improved deal. Whatever they decide, being in denial of the elephant in the room must end – and Britain’s economy, travel and trade needs to be put first instead and honesty must replace ideology.

Harry Mottram is a freelance jounalist who supplies news stories to ICSM. His views are not necessarily those of ICSM. For details of his work visit


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