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When will we get Brexit’s Black Wednesday?

Previous acts of British economic self-harm have been rectified through crisis. It seems we will be learning the hard way again

It has been well publicised that the collapse in economic activity last year, occasioned by the officially induced lockdown, was the biggest for some 200 years. The British economy experienced a bigger hit than most other advanced economies; but it was only the UK that suffered the additional blow of the self-harm caused by Brexit.

The damage is already apparent to businesses and traders that are struggling to cope with the huge impact of the red tape imposed by Britain’s departure on exporters and importers. The recently published overseas trade figures were truly shocking. But, as my Guardian colleague Polly Toynbee observed last week, the extent of the crisis is not yet apparent to many readers of the Brexit-supporting tabloid press, for the simple reason that the problems are under-reported there, and the welcome early success of the British vaccine programme is being misleadingly attributed to the freedom of manoeuvre allegedly afforded by Brexit.

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