Crisis-ridden eurozone matters less and less to UK –

8 months ago Comments Off on Crisis-ridden eurozone matters less and less to UK –

The British economy has many flaws. We suffer from an excessively high budget deficit; an even more worrying (and somewhat mysterious) current account deficit; taxes that are far too high and unbelievably complex; a low-productivity public sector; a dramatic undersupply of residential property which has sent prices spiralling; a creaking road, rail and airport infrastructure; a looming energy crisis caused by daft green laws and wilful government blunders; far too many rules and regulations of every kind; and a workforce that is insufficiently educated and skilled.

But for all of these and other severe lacunae, the UK has actually performed far better than many other comparable countries, including our leading competitors. Culturally, UK workers are far more flexible, far more likely to accept change and to work hard than those of many other countries. Rather than get worse as the red tape has increased, the British workplace has actually become even more willing to change and adapt, as we saw during the financial crisis. 

The same is true of many other areas. We may be bad – including our poor schools and infrastructure – but others are, across the whole economy, worse than us. That is why, for example, the Italian economy has shrunk by 1pc since 2000, while the UK (and US) economies have both grown by 30pc. Germany is up by 18pc in that time, as is France. 

Yet most people in the UK still probably believe that the German economy is stronger than ours. It’s a bizarre psychological flaw that goes to the heart of the British psyche: we see only our faults, not our strengths, and we continue to over-rate our continental competitors. One reason, perhaps, is that we perceive Germany as the home of very high quality, very tangible goods, such as luxury cars; we now focus far more on intangible services.

We travel to France on holiday, so don’t normally witness its economic problems. This time may be different, however, with petrol fast running out. Our future is global, not European, and it is high time we all accepted it.

Crisis-ridden eurozone matters less and less to UK –