This argument, from a backer of Brexit, is one of the most honest that I’ve seen from that camp. I’ve never been in any doubt that leaving the EU would lead to a period of uncertainty and insecurity as the economy adapts to the new context. I can understand why supporters of leaving would want to play that down, but their denials, in the face of all the evidence, have never impressed me. It’s much better to be honest and play up the potential advantages of that uncertainty; this is, after all, the way capitalism is supposed to work.
That doesn’t mean that I support leaving the EU – and nor does it let supporters of the Remain camp off the hook. They argue that the uncertainty surrounding the immediate consequences of exit is sufficient cause to stay; but they are making the implicit assumption that the economic future within the EU is somehow more certain than the economic future outside. It’s a natural human tendency to assume that ‘what is’ is somehow more secure than the alternative, and the remain camp are using that faith in continuity as a cornerstone of their campaign.
But is that faith really valid? Membership of the EU doesn’t provide its members with immunity to economic storms and crises; the recent travails of the Eurozone surely underline that. And sometimes, unexpected events can bring about sudden change; long term stability is more elusive than it appears at first sight. For sure, more economists are lining up in support of remain than exit, but the oft-missed truth is that economists, as a profession, are much better at explaining what happened in the past than they are at predicting the future – not least because economics is about human behaviour, and humans modify their behaviour in the light of experience rather than following economic ‘laws’ derived from past events.For me, the economic arguments between remain and exit are finely balanced; there are more uncertainties in either route than either side is generally admitting. The decision is more political than economic. I believe that Wales will stand a better chance of expressing itself as a nation in a context which is inherently and necessarily multi-national than in an insular, and essentially English, state.