Focused on Disaster Narrative, Media Ignores Obvious Benefits of Brexit

In an essay called "After the Brexit," which appeared in The New Criterion in January 2014, Bennett compared America's cooperation with Canada on the manufacture of cars -- where vehicles are shipped back and forth across the border several times in the process of assembly -- to one possible post-Brexit arrangement between the UK and Europe:

[M]uch of the cross-border trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union could continue with relatively simple arrangements comparable to North American arrangements.

As negotiations proceed towards the invocation of Article 50, the formal request to withdraw from the EU, a series of such arrangements could be agreed upon:

Britain’s trade with the Continent could continue at something near its current levels.

Bennett acknowledges that that Brexit would likely spark  turmoil and a decrease in trade at first, if only because of "market adjustments." He also notes the possibility that some of the diminution of trade and market turmoil would be the result of "spite on the European side" (are you listening, Mr. Juncker?). But he also noted:

[S]ince at present the European Union has a positive trade balance with the United Kingdom (i.e., they export more to the United Kingdom than the United Kingdom does to them), it would really be a case of “cut off their nose to spite their face” to try to reduce that, especially considering the current (and likely future) unemployment levels on the Continent.

There is as much consternation among the Eurocrats on the Continent as there is among the disappointed Remainders in London. A lot of wild things are being said, accusations hurled, and grandstanding is everywhere on display. But I suspect that Bennett is right that cooler heads will soon prevail:

[I]t is reasonable to expect that substantial post-Brexit trade ties will continue between the U.K. and the European Union, perhaps coming near to maintaining current levels. Still, once the U.K. is outside of the European customs union, it is free to strike trade deals for itself, or to join other trade areas or trade arrangements to increase its trade with the rest of the world.

That's one plus. And another concerns the EU's own imposition of trade barriers:

The fact is, the E.U.’s external barriers are fairly substantial in a number of areas, including many in which Britain is a competitive exporter. In E.U. trade talks with potential partners, it is usually the case that various Continental protectionist interests tend to be the limiting factor on striking open deals, to the detriment of British trade. Therefore, it may well be possible to strike better deals on bilateral U.K. trade agreements or on multilateral agreements to which the European Union is not a partner.