Bill Carmichael: Remain doom-mongers confounded by inconvenient facts

Bill Carmichael is unimpressed by those arguing for the UK to reconsider leaving the EU.
Bill Carmichael is unimpressed by those arguing for the UK to reconsider leaving the EU.
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Watching the news this week I’ve been constantly reminded of Senna the Soothsayer, a character in Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii TV comedy in the 1970s.

Most weeks she would appear dressed in rags, weaving her arms madly about her head and screaming “Woe, woe and thrice woe” before predicting that some terrible calamity would befall the people.

These days she’d be a regular on the BBC’s Newsnight and on Question Time every week and she’d be given a verified blue check mark account on Twitter.

Whether it is the pressures of social media, or fury at the fact that ordinary folk have finally had a say on the UK’s relationship with the EU, it is clear that Brexit has driven many Remainers completely bonkers.

We are constantly told that the UK is doomed, going to hell in a handcart and on the brink of a catastrophe that will bring chaos and destruction – all “because of Brexit”.

The only problem for the modern soothsayers is those pesky, inconvenient things called “facts” keep cropping up to completely ruin the narrative. This week for example, amid the gloom and blood curdling warnings of calamity, up popped the Office for National Statistics with an astonishingly good set of employment figures that demonstrate the aptly named “Jobs Miracle” continues apace.

These show that employment in the UK has hit a record high at 32.54 million and the number of job vacancies – at 853,000 – is also the highest recorded. According to the ONS, the “share of the workforce looking for work and unable to find it remains at its lowest for over 40 years”.

Unemployment at four per cent is the lowest since the 1970s. Compare that to our European friends – nearly 10 per cent are jobless in France, over 10 per cent in Italy and almost 15 per cent in Spain. I suppose it is a good job that being the EU and the Euro guarantees their prosperity, isn’t it?

Since 2010, 3.8 million jobs have been created in the UK private sector. The Government will claim credit for this, but the real heroes are the ordinary men and women who are creating, building, buying and selling.

While the politicians constantly squabble in their efforts to overturn Brexit, the working people are quietly getting on with the job and building a strong economy that is the envy of Europe.

Ah, say the Remainers, most of these jobs are low paid, part-time, zero hours contracts in slave labour call centres and the like.

But I am afraid those annoying facts destroy this narrative too. The statistics show that the bulk of the new jobs created are full-time and there is a record 24 million full-time jobs in the UK.

And far from being low-paid, the figures show that wage growth surged by 3.3 per cent in the year to November and wages continue to outpace inflation. To put it in summary – there are many more jobs available and people are being paid more for doing them.

Now leaving the EU may impact on the UK’s economy, particularly if we forced to leave without a deal because of Brussels intransigence and refusal to compromise. We may have to take some kind of economic hit, although frankly the ravings of the Project Fear merchants are so exaggerated, and have been proved wrong so often in the past, that no one takes much notice of them any more.

But what is also clear is that our economy is in such robust health that we will quickly bounce back – which is more than you can say for Germany, France, Italy or Spain. The impact on many European countries, particularly Germany and the Irish Republic, will be far more serious. But frankly that is their problem – perhaps they should have put more pressure on their Brussels negotiators to be more reasonable?

I suspect things won’t change all that much once we leave the EU. We’ll carry on pretty much as before – only we’ll be freer, more democratic, more able to run our own affairs and even more prosperous. And we’ll be better able to distance ourselves from the EU when the entire thing collapses in on itself, as it inevitably will.

The real danger is a General Election resulting in an extreme-left Labour government imposing Venezuelan-style socialism on our country. Then we 
really would see disaster and chaos. And if that ever happens Senna the Soothsayer would have plenty to complain about.