Experts have warned that Britain is facing a “decade of disruption” in the wake of the vote to leave the EU, as one of the country’s leading businesswomen accused political and financial leaders of being “detached from reality” following the referendum result.
In a new report looking at the challenges facingthe UK over the coming years, the centre-left IPPR think-tank claims Brexit has delivered a “profound shock” to the country’s political and economic order, which is likely to set the country on a path of permanently lower growth and living standards.
At the same time, it warns that a rapidly ageing population will impose new strains on the state with the funding gap for adult social care expected to hit £13 billion by 2030/31.
While in the workplace, “exponential” improvements in new technologies – such as artificial intelligence systems and machine learning – will radically change the way people work, putting two-thirds of current jobs at risk of automation.
“Brexit is the firing gun on a decade of disruption,” the report states.
“Even as what we do and how we work changes, the UK is likely to remain trapped in a low growth, low interest rate decade driven by demographic shifts, productivity trends, weak investment... high levels of debt, and the headwinds of a slowing global economy.
“Without reform, our political and social system will struggle to build a more democratic, healthy society in the decades ahead, even as Brexit accelerates us towards a radically different institutional landscape.
“In the conditions of the 2020s and beyond, politics cannot return to the strategies of the past. The old approaches will not be robust enough.”
The findings come as Helena Morrissey, chairwoman of Newton Investment Management, warned that global elites risked ignoring the driving forces behind Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
Guest editing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the 50-year-old said the 2008 financial crisis “should have been a wake-up call to experts, pundits and establishment figures everywhere”.
But she claimed that the last few years have instead seen the rich grow richer, while the less well-off have seen their jobs affected by globalisation and new technology. “Many of those at the top seem to have either been oblivious or dismissive of the risks of the widening gulf... The events of this past year suggest to me that many people in charge have remained detached from reality,” she said.
Ms Morrissey went on to say that votes for Brexit and President-elect Trump cannot be dismissed as populism, and that too many leaders in business and politics operate in “a narrow comfort zone”.
And as a rare Leave supporter in the City, she also spoke of “public humiliation” at one meeting after the vote where she was accused by a colleague of ruining the economy for the next decade.
Responding to the IPPR report, spokesperson for the pro-Brexit Change Britain campaign, Chloe Westley, claimed that the UK faced economic and technological challenges before the referendum. “The fact is the vote to leave the EU allows the UK to tackle these challenges more effectively,” she said.
Leave Means Leave supporter David Campbell Bannerman MEP added: “[The report] takes no account of the benefit of UK negotiating free trade deals... nor of more jobs and greater training of the UK workforce once immigration is controlled.”