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Brexit is just a distraction to the real problem: the UK’s clapped-out economy | Austin Mitchell


We must rebalance the economy by widening the manufacturing and production base, making it competitive. Being in or out of the EU has little relevance

• Austin Mitchell is a former Labour MP for Grimsby and public accounts commissioner

As Brexiteers shout “forward” and remainers chant “ back”, the battle over the EU dominates British politics. Yet it obscures a more basic British problem. Our clapped-out economy, brilliant at consumption, poor at production, is becoming unviable. A “nation of shopkeepers” has become a nation of shoppers, dependent on debt.

Deindustrialisation and misguided economic policies have reduced the former workshop of the world to a level where Britain can neither pay its way, nor afford the defence and public services an advanced society needs. Everything in which we once were leaders – ships, railways, TV, great bridges, nuclear plants, bicycles, textiles, clothing, even Kit Kats – we now import.

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