Background Briefing: One year on - 52 new facts about Brexit

Today, Thursday 29 March 2018 marks the 1 year anniversary of the UK Government having triggered Article 50 and also one year to the day until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Since the notification of article 50, 52 weeks have passed and many developments and new facts have emerged on Brexit, none of which could have been known during the referendum campaign. To signify this fact, Open Britain have compiled a list of 52 new facts to highlight the uncertainty which Brexit is causing and also the negative trajectory on which the country finds itself. 

The new facts highlight the costs and risks of Brexit, the damage it is doing to Britain’s economy and international reputation, the damage it is doing to confidence in business investment and the threat it poses to the continued success of the peace process in Northern Ireland.


The 52 new facts in detail


  1. We’ve gone from being the fastest growing economy in the G7 before the Brexit vote to the slowest.[1]
  2. Growth has been downgraded to just 1.5% in 2018, and 1.3% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.[2]
  3. This will be the first time since the war there's been five consecutive years of 1.5% growth or below.[3]
  4. Brexit has already cost us more than £200 million a week in lost growth, according to the Governor of the Bank of England.[4]
  5. The Government’s own secret impact analysis shows that leaving the Single Market means the UK will need to find an additional £55bn in borrowing by 2033.[5]
  6. Business investment is almost 6% lower than the OBR was forecasting in March 2016.[6]


Cost of Brexit

  1. The Government have agreed to a ‘divorce bill’ of at least £37 billion.[7]
  2. The OBR have said we will be paying off the divorce bill through until 2064.[8]
  3. Brexit preparations have cost £400m in 2017/18.[9]
  4. The 2017 Autumn Budget outlined £3 billion in departmental spending associated with Brexit over the next two years.[10]
  5. The National Audit Office says 2,409 new civil service jobs have already had to have been created due to Brexit.[11]
  6. In the next financial year, the Government will be spending £942,000 a day on Brexit planning.[12]
  7. The UK Government is already working on 313 different programmes to implement Brexit, according to the National Audit Office.[13] 
  8. More than 130,000 UK companies will be forced into paying VAT up-front on all goods imported from the EU due to Brexit legislation currently in the pipeline.[14]



  1. London has lost the European Medicines Agency which employs 900 people, to Amsterdam.[15]
  2. London has lost the European Banking Authority, which employs 150 people, to Paris.[16]
  3. High-street chain Maplin has gone into administration, partly blaming the post-Brexit devaluation of sterling.[17]
  4. Unilever recently announced it would be moving its dual HQ out of London and basing it solely in Rotterdam.[18]
  5. A shortage of around 4,000 migrant workers on UK fruit and vegetable farms in 2017 meant fruit was left rotting in fields because there weren’t enough workers to pick it all.[19]



  1. The Nursing and Midwifery Council says applications from EU nurses to work in the UK have fallen by 89% since the referendum.[20]
  2. The number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the UK increased by 67% last year.[21]
  3. The Government has chosen to leave Euratom, threatening the supply of radioactive isotopes used in cancer treatments.[22]
  4. New figures show more than 1,000 life-saving NHS transplants in the past decade relied on the transport of organs across the Ireland-UK border.[23]



  1. Food prices are growing at their fastest rate in 4 years.[24]
  2. In the last year, the price of butter is up 22.5%; sugar is up 13.9%; pasta is up 11.5%; and coffee is up 10.5%.[25]
  3. Foreign exchange experts Caxton FX calculate the price of your summer holiday has risen by 10% since the referendum.[26]
  4. The value of the pound has plummeted by 13.7% against the Euro since the EU referendum.[27]
  5. The Centre for Economic Performance says that the Brexit vote is already costing the average household £404 a year.[28]
  6. Research by the IFS in March 2018 showed that any unilateral removing of UK tariffs would only cut prices for consumers by 1.2%, completely outweighed by the 2% increase in prices since the Brexit referendum.[29]


Impact of Brexit

  1. The Government has been forced to publish its own analysis showing a free trade agreement with the EU will leave growth 4.8% lower than if we were still in the EU.[30]
  2. The worst-hit region would be the North East, which would take a 11% hit to growth.[31]



  1. New research by the Financial Times shows 759 international treaties need to be renegotiated.[32]
  2. According to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, leaving the EU’s Air Safety Authority, EASA, would be protracted and costly, and would offer no practical benefit in terms of regulatory sovereignty.[33]


Trade deals

  1. The EU has agreed new trade deals with Canada[34] and Japan[35].
  2. The Government’s own Brexit impact analysis found that even if we did loads of new trade deals quickly, they would – at best – boost long-term GDP by just 0.2-0.7%.[36]
  3. Wilbur Ross, the US Commerce Secretary, said in London that securing a trade deal with the United States would mean lowering our food standards.[37]
  4. The Government has refused to support reciprocity in any future UK/USA trade deal with Donald Trump, exposing British sectors in health and financial services to American competition while withholding UK access to USA.[38]
  5. South Korean officials have signalled that it would not role over the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement for the UK on existing terms[39] 
  6. Chile has indicated that it will not roll-over the existing EU-Chile Free Trade Agreement unless the UK makes concessions in the agricultural sector.[40]
  7. The United States has been clear that the UK will be offered a worse deal on transatlantic aviation than what the US currently has in place with the EU.[41]
  8. The United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay have all challenged an attempt by the UK and EU to divide up trade quotas between them at the WTO[42]
  9. Donald Trump – with whom the Government is desperate to negotiate a free trade deal – has recently slapped tariffs on aluminium and steel, which the UK was only able to be exempted from, due to lobbying from the European Commission.[43] 


Northern Ireland

  1. The House of Commons’ Northern Ireland Committee published a report which concluded “We have seen no evidence to suggest that, right now, an invisible border is possible.”[44]
  2. The Irish Revenue Commissioners has said a final scenario of eight crossing points for goods is “not inconceivable”.[45]
  3. A new ferry route linking Ireland with northern Spain has been announced, which will enable businesses to bypass Britain in transporting freight between the countries.[46]



  1. A report from the Government's Migration Advisory Committee has found that "lower migration would very likely lead to lower growth in total employment, and lower output growth.”[47]


Developments in the EU

  1. New French president Emmanuel Macron has secured EU-wide agreement to reform the Posted Workers’ Directive, to prevent the undercutting of wages.[48]
  2. In June 2017, mobile phone roaming charges between EU member states were abolished, meaning that UK mobile phone users will no longer rack up large mobile phone bills when travelling in the EU[49].
  3. In November 2017, EU member states agreed to end the practice of geo-blocking, where companies can, online, refuse to sell to customers based on their geographic location.[50]
  4. In March 2018, new EU rules came into force to combat VAT avoidance by large multi-national companies.[51]      



  1. According to the Think Tank, RUSI, Brexit will undermine European security and see the UK losing its lead role in European military operations.[52]
  2. It was through collective action in the EU, that Theresa May was able to garner Europe-wide support in the wake of the Salisbury attack,[53] rubbishing the idea that the EU does not play an important role in European security and defence. 




[2] Ibid p 10























[25] Ibid















[40] Ibid