Bill Carmichael: Time the ‘despite Brexit’ crowd shut up

The BMW Mini plant in Cowley, near Oxford. A fully-electric version of the Mini is to be built at the plant, the car firm has announced. (PA).
The BMW Mini plant in Cowley, near Oxford. A fully-electric version of the Mini is to be built at the plant, the car firm has announced. (PA).
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Perhaps the two most over-used words in the English language so far in 2017 are “despite Brexit”.

Demoralised Remainers have taken to this little phrase in a desperate attempt to explain why their confident predictions of total economic collapse, genocide and the outbreak of World War Three if we voted to leave the EU have not in fact come to pass.

Instead, since the referendum result last summer the UK has been cheered by wave after wave of fantastically positive economic news – but each verse of glad tidings is accompanied by the bleating Remoaner chorus of “despite Brexit”.

The phenomenon has become so commonplace that Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, remarked on it.

He pointed out the BBC found it impossible to report any of the many good economic news stories – such as figures showing record foreign investment in the UK or exports soaring by almost 11 per cent in a year – without adding “despite Brexit”.

This month has produced a bumper crop of “despite Brexit” stories. For example BMW announced this week that it had chosen to invest billions in its Oxford plant to build the all-electric Mini-E – in the teeth of competition from factories in Germany and the Netherlands.

This is a remarkable story and a huge vote of confidence, and it demonstrates unequivocally that despite all the froth and bluster coming out of Brussels, the big German manufacturers have absolutely no worries about Britain’s post-EU economy or the prospects of a good UK-EU trade deal.

But how do you think the fanatically pro-EU Financial Times reported it? 
Yes, you guessed it: “Electric Mini to be built in the UK by BMW despite Brexit.”

By the way, if Brexit is such a disaster, as the Remainers keep telling us, and will leave the UK isolated and broke, wouldn’t BMW have chosen to build the new Mini-E in Germany? Just asking.

Meanwhile, Doug Gurr, the UK boss of Amazon, announced the creation of 450 hi-tech jobs while praising the UK as a “brilliant location for talent” because of our universities and strength in engineering, science and fashion. Absolutely no worries about Brexit from one of the world’s leading technology companies then.

Fantastic news, is it not? “Despite Brexit”, came the inevitable, dismal refrain. Unemployment at a 43-year low, according to the Office of National Statistics? “Despite Brexit”.

Economic growth up by 0.3 per cent in the latest quarter and forecast to outperform France and Italy in 2017? “Despite Brexit”. Inflation down, foreign investment up, export order expectations on a 40-year high? All together now – you know the words – “despite Brexit”.

You have to feel sorry for these people. It must be tough when all your predictions – every single one of them – turn out to be 100 per cent wrong and your view of the world from inside your head is so at odds with the actual facts on the ground. But I do wish they would give it a rest. And whisper it quietly, but perhaps all this good news is not “despite” Brexit but “because of” it?

Take for example the words of Kevin Brennan, the chief executive of the vegetarian food giant Quorn, which this week announced a £150m investment in its UK factories, and the creation of 300 new jobs, in the expectation of rapid growth in demand for its product.

Yes, said Mr Brennan, Quorn has substantial exports to the EU, but it can cope with Brexit. That’s because the real prospects for growth lie in the Asian and North American markets – areas where there are now bright prospects of big free trade deals thanks to us throwing off the shackles of the EU.

Given the choice between the sclerotic, low-growth, debt-riddled EU and the vibrant, dynamic economies of Asia and the Americas, Mr Brennan knows on which side his Quorn burger is buttered.

Mr Brennan’s optimism is in sharp contrast to the constant whingeing of the Remoaners who, more than a year later, still cannot accept the result of a democratic vote, and I can’t help recalling another comment from Dr Fox in his criticism of the “despite Brexit” crowd. There are those in the BBC, he said, who would rather see the UK fail than Brexit succeed.

It is a criticism that I suspect applies to many in the Remainer camp. They should hang their heads in shame.