Good to see that you still pop in from time to time, Ray, to see what the monkeys are up to and to throw in the odd banana to watch them scrap over it. I hope you are keeping well.
I have to admit that the article that you linked together with the one referenced by Brian on another thread did give me a good laugh. Both sides of the debate attempting to reach higher and higher levels of hyperbole in order to convince people that their side is correct only to drive them further into their already entrenched positions. All logic is lost in the maelstrom. To try to return to a more normal debate and restore some logic it is best to concentrate on one aspect and gather as many facts as possible. For example forget all other arguments and just consider trade.
Remainers think that free trade, no quotas, no tariffs, no customs checks and no regulatory barriers, is a good thing. Leavers think that free trade, no quotas, no tariffs, no customs checks and no regulatory barriers, is a good thing. They are in complete agreement. You couldn't slide a cigarette paper between them. Where they differ is that remainers worry that losing the free trade deal with the EU will have a worse economic impact than that which can be gained by doing free trade deals with other countries while leavers believe that the free trade deals we can do with other countries will be better than the free trade deal we have with the EU. Nobody actually knows. There is no proof either way. For both sides it is a matter of faith. There are some things that can be said with a high level of certainty, however:
1 Changing our trading relationship with the EU, from free trade to trade with quotas, tariffs, customs checks and regulatory barriers, which is what happens under a no-deal Brexit, will have a negative impact on our trade with the EU. How big an impact nobody knows but it would be totally ludicrous to espouse the benefits of free trade and then to say that losing it would have no negative effect.
2 Approximately 60 % of UK GDP derives from world trade, both exports and imports split roughly equally.
3 A little over 40 % of that trade is with the EU.
4 Thus 24 % of UK GDP is dependent on trade with the EU. Going from a completely free trade deal to a no-deal would not need to have a very big negative impact on EU trade to have a significant negative impact on UK GDP. These are not suppositions or projections. No complex economic models have been used only primary school mathematics. There is no project fear. These are real figures taken from the Office of National Statistics and the logic is that used by the leave camp to promote the value of leaving.
5 Nobody knows how big the negative impact on GDP will be. Annual growth in UK GDP is under 2 %, the figure for 2017 was 1.7 %. If going from a free trade relationship to WTO rules reduced trade with the EU by as little as one tenth it would be enough to put the UK into recession. Even if the impact is less than one tenth, in the short term growth in GDP would still be lower than it would be by remaining.
6 In the event of a no deal the impact on EU trade would start immediately on 29 March 2019. How long it would take to develop new free trade deals with other countries to offset the negative impact on EU trade I have no idea but I doubt if the most ardent Brexiteer would dare to claim that it will be instant. The longer it takes the greater the cumulative negative impact on GDP. Even a small negative impact on GDP can have quite a large cumulative negative impact if it continues for a number of years and the historical evidence suggests that 7 years is probably a minimum.
I have no idea if the leave camp will be proved right and that after a period of time, perhaps a decade, growth will be faster than if we stayed in the EU but neither do they. It is an assertion, an act of faith. The UK has just gone through an 8 year period of austerity. Wages have been declining in real terms. The fact that there has been a very recent return to real term increases in wages has not undone the cumulative effect of 8 years of shrinkage and it will take a long time for real term wages to just get back to where they were. Public services are under ever increasing pressure with ever dwindling resources to meet that pressure. If a no-deal Brexit imposed any further worsening of GDP growth for a period of years then public services will decline further.
A negative impact on GDP, however small would also make the UK less resilient to outside shocks. There are plenty of those out there hiding in the bushes. Will they emerge? I have no idea. I'm not Mystic Meg and I don't have a crystal ball but history does tell us that they do tend to emerge with great regularity and we are long overdue one.