Brexit: the only show in town

Issue of Britain’s pending divorce dominates everything from Heathrow to Nissan to GDP

 Heathrow expansion plan was presented as central to Britain’s new post-Brexit ambitions even though it’s a capacity issue that has long dogged the airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Heathrow expansion plan was presented as central to Britain’s new post-Brexit ambitions even though it’s a capacity issue that has long dogged the airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

 

Like the child of separated parents, the UK is now seemingly destined to have every action, however separate and unconnected, viewed through the prism of its divorce from Europe.

Take the Heathrow expansion plan, approved in principle by the government this week after decades of prevarication.

The £17.6 billion project was presented as central to Britain’s new post-Brexit ambitions even though it’s a capacity issue that has long dogged the airport.

Divisions within the Tory party over the plan were also headlined as an exacerbating factor in the Brexit feud rather than straightforward opposition to the project.

Even the upcoming byelection sparked by the resignation of MP Zach Goldsmith has morphed into a vote on Brexit. The Lib Dems are hoping to leverage the fact that a large majority of voters in the Richmond constituency voted to remain, while Goldsmith backed the Leave campaign.

The Tories have decided not to run a candidate despite having a massive majority, fearing it would allow the Lib Dems in on an anti-Brexit ticket.

Nissan’s decision to build its new Qashqai and X-Trail models in Sunderland, thus preserving the main plank of its manufacturing operations in the UK, couldn’t escape the Brexit vortex either.

No sweetheart deal

The good news story was immediately swamped by a political row over what guarantees had been given to the company, with Downing Street forced to deny that it had offered Nissan some sort of sweetheart deal.

On the same day, stronger-than-expected growth figures were seized upon by Brexiteers as proof that warnings of a big hit to the economy from a Leave vote were little more than scaremongering.

While the headline growth of growth of 0.5 per cent for the third quarter was comfortably ahead of predictions, it overshadowed a noticeable fall-off in industrial production, including manufacturing, and construction.

Then, perhaps the most polarising figure in British politics, Tony Blair, weighed in with the suggestion of holding a second referendum if the Brexit deal proved unattractive. No prizes for guessing how that went down with the Leave camp. It seems Brexit is the only show in town.

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