Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Are good economists for Brexit?

I have seen that there is a group called "Economists for Brexit". I feared it would be a long list of right wing nativist professionals of the economy, but I am relieved to see that they are only eight economists. I lived almost three years in London, and I spent previously some weeks at Oxford. I am an anglophile who watches the BBC (the best contribution of the Brits to civilization). My PhD supervisor was an English professor. I have English great economists as co-authors and friends, and I had another great English economist as member of my thesis committee. I am very happy to see that none of them are among the "Economists for Brexit." Actually, I do not know any of the eight members in the group, whose chair is the chief economic advisor of the xenofobic former mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Of course now I cannot follow all the details of the referendum debate because I am not there, but it seems to me that this group is very far away from the mainstream in the profession. When the magazine "The Economist" has the same position as old Labour, new Labour, and "trostko" Labour, which by the way is the same position as the decent wing of the Conservative Party and all the Liberal Party, one wonders what kind of economists they are. As it happened on occasion of the referendum about the independence of Scotland, the nationalists are losing this referendum precisely because of the economic debate. They may still win at the end (I hope they do not), but if they do, it will not be because of the economic arguments. The UK needs free trade with Europe, at the same time that it keeps some influence on European rules. The UK needs immigrants, as the rest of Europe does. And the UK will still be admired by people like me if they remain the cosmopolitan, tolerant and open country that I have always enjoyed.

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