The costs of Brexit continue to mount – and they dwarf what Boris Johnson has set aside for “levelling up” in the regions
It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain, as the Brexit waste goes on and on without ever making sense – a bit like Boris Johnson’s speech on levelling up.
Speaking of which, the costs of Johnson’s mission to level down the UK’s standing around the world turn out to dwarf what he’s proposing to give to less privileged areas of the country. While £4.8billion has been allocated by the government to the new Levelling Up Fund, some £12billion has gone to departments and devolved authorities to help them get their heads round the logistics of being out of the EU.
Add that to the estimated £40billion in lost trade with Europe since we left the single market at the end of January and the £130billion wasted on Brexit from 2016-2020, and Johnson’s first big idea is sucking up more than 38 times the amount being spent on his second, infinitely better one.
No wonder Lord Frost and his union flag socks are so eager to knock £3.5bn off our divorce bill with the EU. You might remember that as the one that Boris Johnson told his backbenchers was “extortionate” and Europe could “go whistle” for, but which he’s now willing to pay £37.3billion to settle.
Yet the costly embarrassments continue to rack up for Brexiteers. Rather than use up our stocks of burgundy passports before switching to blue ones, the government decided the new colour must come in last March and the supplies of old-style passports destroyed. That exercise in Brexit boneheadedness cost the taxpayer £8.6million.
Johnson’s Brexit plane, repainted in Union flag livery at a cost of £900,000 and supposed to boost trade around the world, has been used only once in a promotional capacity in the last five months.
Then there’s the £200m Brexit yacht, the cost of which cabinet office secretary Michael Gove, trade secretary Liz Truss and defence secretary Ben Wallace are all adamant will not come from their budgets. A government insider told the Times the yacht row was “a complete and utter shitshow”, which is probably being unfair to shitshows.
There is, however, a way that Boris Johnson could win worldwide attention for levelled-up global Brexit Britain, at a budget cost. All he needs is a box of matches, a plinth in Leicester Square, his own bare bottom and three red-white-and-blue flares…
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