What does the post-Brexit future look like?

Janice Morphet, author of Beyond Brexit, out today, warns that without due consideration of all the challenges that lie ahead, Brexit poses a real threat to UK economic and social stability.

In this article Professor Morphet looks ahead to what the coming months could bring, and suggests priorities going forward.


Janice Morphet

“As Brexit is a negotiation, it is a dynamic process.

The Prime Minister took this essential position last July and spent her first six months in an enigmatic ‘Brexit means Brexit’ mode.

This allowed some space for the machinery of government to be realigned and the new departments to lead on Brexit – International Trade and Exiting the EU – to be established. But what does the future hold?

The loss of economic security

In terms of economic security, the effects of Brexit on the UK economy have started to pile up – the loss in the value of the pound in the first days after the referendum equated to the value of UK contributions to the EU for fifteen years.

“The loss in the value of the pound in the first days after the referendum equated to the value of UK contributions to the EU for fifteen years.”

Deals have been offered to Nissan in Sunderland by the government which have appeared to transgress state aid rules, although more recently the company has suggested changing its mind about remaining in the UK. Asked about investment in the UK, a Chinese source commented that, before the referendum, the UK was a door to the EU and now it is only a door.

While domestic demand has been strong since the referendum, this has proved to be short lived and secured against personal credit, increasing domestic debt to higher levels than have been experienced since 2008. Some businesses have benefited from the loss of value in the pound through exports, but this growth should be seen in the light of increased costs of imported raw materials and domestic labour costs that have yet to be passed on to consumers.

There has also been an increased interest in takeover activity for UK companies now in the bargain basement. UK tax income has been high in January 2017 but reducing net migration rates and company relocations will lead to a lower tax take. Will these increasing labour shortages in the health, care , agriculture and hospitality sectors be filled by the increasing numbers of unemployed, left behind as companies relocate inside the EU?

More tensions and political unrest

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has stated her objectives in the post Article 50 negotiations in a White Paper that saw a return to her comfort zone as a Home Secretary, an office that she held for six years and which provides her inner core of Brexit advisers.

While the appointed Home Secretary is left making small statements with a stern face, the Prime Minister remains occupied with migration numbers and controlling the borders, primarily to resist potential terrorists, even though most of these are home grown. These issues are important but do not recognise that a weak economy will give rise to more tensions and potential unrest.

Why triggering article 50 will settle nothing

The last few months have therefore demonstrated some activity but it seems likely that triggering Article 50 will settle nothing, for the following reasons.

Firstly, as Tony Blair and Anatole Kaletsky have stated, the prerequisite of democracy requires that there is an open debate on the consequences when they are fully known and the opportunity of individuals to change their minds – this is what periodic elections are for.

Secondly, there has been no engagement on the principles that will remain after the negotiations and how they will relate to the UK’s unwritten constitution. These include subsidiarity, cohesion – an EU principle that first emerged in 1959 and is now finally being embraced by the UK government and Parliament – and the principles of equity, fairness and access.

Thirdly, the policies and programmes based on these core EU principles, underpinned by regulations and directives, will remain in currency not least for those companies and organizations that want to remain on trading terms with the EU. But how long will they last in practice?

Trade deal pressures from the US could undermine many of these core principles – depending on how needy the UK is at the time of trade negotiations.

Independent or isolated?

Those who want to challenge the government approaches to standards for water and air quality will have no recourse to the ECJ or ECHR. The UK will no longer be eligible to join the Council of Europe and appears to be likely to be isolated. If the UK wants to leave the EU to restore and enhance its world leadership role, it will need some friends and followers.

“If the UK wants to leave the EU to restore and enhance its world leadership role, it will need some friends and followers.”

The challenges that lie ahead

There are responsibilities on all of those who can advise on the implications of the areas of legislation that will be renegotiated as part of Brexit and how new UK policies will be developed for the future. For those who have worked with the Prime Minster on security issues there has to be a recognition that disregarding the performance of the future economy of the UK may result in more discontent and social unrest. In pursuing a narrow defence and security agenda above an economic one, the Prime Minster may be encouraging what she most fears.

“The greatest challenge will be how to replace those foundational principles that anchor EU legislation and which serve as a means for individuals to test their implementation.”

For those who are engaged in delivering public services, there will be a need to demonstrate what the effects will be of a return to centralisation. Every proposal that comes forward in the Brexit negotiation needs to be considered against what might remain and what might be lost and the cost of this to society.

The negotiations may also be packaged – much will be in the small print and the implied agreements. But the greatest challenge will be how to replace those foundational principles that anchor EU legislation and which serve as a means for individuals to test their implementation.

What rights and principles will replace them in the UK constitution and how will they be secured in a meaningful way?

Brexit seems to be a code for a reverse power grab. Whitehall does not want to see powers returned from Brussels only to immediately pass them to devolved nations and directly elected mayors. This would be a pyrrhic victory. Those engaging in this long drawn out negotiation expect to receive the spoils of victory at the end, retaining what they have recaptured and then exercising their rights over the territories available to be governed.”


9781447339243Beyond Brexit? by Janice Morphet can be ordered here for £7.99.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

The welfare myth of them and us

Read the complete preface to the second edition of John Hill’s influential Good times, bad times below. This ground-breaking book uses extensive research and survey evidence to challenge the myth that the population divides into those who benefit from the welfare state and those who pay into it – ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. 

John Hills (small)

John Hills

Good times, bad times was completed in 2014. A great deal has happened in UK politics and policy since then, not least the election of a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron in May 2015, the result of the referendum in June 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union, and the subsequent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister in July 2016.

Through all of this, the issues discussed in this book have remained central. One of its themes is the way that our lives are ever-changing.

Sometimes this is simply because we get older, we form – and dissolve – marriages and other partnerships, children are born, and they leave home.

But it is also because we move in and out of work, change and lose jobs, and what comes in from work and other sources can change not just from year to- year with our careers, but also from month-to-month, or even day-to-day, in ways highlighted by the spread of ‘zero hours contracts’.

Our needs – for education and for health and social care – change as we grow older, but also with the fluctuations in our state of health.

“Much popular debate assumes that people’s lives are unchanging.”

Continue reading ‘The welfare myth of them and us’

Open access: A publisher’s perspective

Julia Mortimer, Assistant Director of Policy Press/University of Bristol Press, explores the benefits, opportunities and challenges of open access (OA), one of the most significant publishing developments since the invention of the printing press.  

Julia Mortimer

Julia Mortimer


Unleashing potential

There have been extraordinary benefits from OA in furthering scientific endeavour, innovation, business development and public knowledge. Lives have been saved because medical research and datasets have been openly available. Digital access has made this all possible and has enabled research outputs to reach a broader audience beyond a paywall.

For Policy Press, and the newly created University of Bristol Press, as a not-for-profit publisher with a social mission, OA is crucial in helping the work we publish have a greater impact on society and for public good.

Just some of the benefits to authors are:

Visibility & impact: OA makes research more widely and easily visible to researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Usage: A number of studies and reports have shown that OA journal articles are viewed more often than articles available only to subscribers (See this article in the BMJ for example).

Collaboration: OA publication fosters greater dialogue across disciplinary and geographical boundaries.

Social Justice: OA reduces inequalities in access to knowledge due to lack of institutional funding. Continue reading ‘Open access: A publisher’s perspective’

Use Kudos to maximise and measure the impact of your research

Edwina Thorn, Journals Executive, Policy Press

As the volume of scholarly publications proliferates, you may well wonder whether the research you have worked so hard to publish is actually reaching readers and making a difference. You may also find that you are increasingly expected to demonstrate the impact of your work in grant applications or performance reviews.

At Policy Press we want to help and have partnered with Kudos to help you maximise and measure the impact of your research. This blog post is intended to provide quick and practical tips on how to use this service. Continue reading ‘Use Kudos to maximise and measure the impact of your research’

It’s not just about the money: 5 dilemmas underpinning health and social care reform

Following on from the publication of the third edition of Understanding health and social care, Jon Glasby looks at what’s needed for long-term, successful health and social care reform.


Jon Glasby

Open any national newspaper or turn on the news and (Trump and Brexit aside) there is likely to be coverage of the intense pressures facing the NHS.

Throughout the winter, there have been stories of hospitals at breaking point, an ambulance service struggling to cope, major problems in general practice and significant financial challenges.

For many commentators, this is one of the significant crises the NHS has faced for many years, and quite possibly the longest period of sustained disinvestment in its history.

“Draconian funding cuts have decimated services at the very time that need is increasing.”

Continue reading ‘It’s not just about the money: 5 dilemmas underpinning health and social care reform’

Get social care right and the NHS will benefit

How can we improve access to and quality of social care? Catherine Needham, co-author of Micro-enterprise and personalisation, discusses how micro-enterprises and micro providers could improve care services. 


Catherine Needham

At a time when the Red Cross is warning of a ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ in the NHS, there is a growing recognition that pressure on NHS services will not be alleviated unless we get social care right.

Social care services support frail older people and people with disabilities. They are run by local government and have borne the brunt of the local authority cuts in recent years, with around 26 per cent fewer people now getting help than did in the past.

Many care providers have gone bust due to downward pressures on fees and in many parts of the country it is very hard to recruit trained staff to work in care when the pay rates are higher at the local supermarket.

“It is very hard to recruit trained staff to work in care when the pay rates are higher at the local supermarket.”

Together these pressures contribute to older people being stuck in hospitals, unable to be discharged into the community because the support is not available to them.

Fixing social care

Getting social care right is not a quick fix. Access to good quality, affordable care for people with disabilities and older people is a challenging issue.

Continue reading ‘Get social care right and the NHS will benefit’

Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis

There is now a deep crisis in housing supply in many parts of England. In his provocative new book, Duncan Bowie, author of Radical solutions to the housing supply crisis, argues that policy proposals promoted by Government and many commentators are either just tinkering with the problem, or will actually exacerbate the situation.


Duncan Bowie

We have not learnt the lessons of the 2008 credit crunch and in fact we have had a housing deficit whether the country has been in boom or bust.

It is time to throw off long held ideological assumptions as to ideal forms of tenure and the relationship of state to market.

There is a systemic problem which cannot be corrected by short term measures and more radical solutions are necessary if the housing market is to be stabilised and the delivery of new homes increased.

“Housing…is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas.”

We need to recognise that if we are to tackle inequity in wealth and opportunities, we need to tackle inequity in housing, which is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas. It is also central to the growth in inter-generational inequality.

Continue reading ‘Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis’

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