Davis and Raab messed Britain up then ran away – and now they’ve got the award to prove it

For Britain, Brexit is lose-lose. For its former Brexit secretaries, it’s the opposite. 

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Last night, hours after the Bank of England warned of a no-deal Brexit sending the UK headfirst into a recession worse than that of the 2008 financial crash, two men stood, suited and booted and beaming, on a stage in a five-star hotel just across London, ready to collect their awards.

Finally, at long last, the Spectator's 2018 Parliamentarian of the Year awards would recognise David Davis and Dominic Raab, the UK’s two former Brexit secretaries for their achievement: Resignation(s!) of the Year! About time!

Their big win – and with 14 cabinet resignations this year, it was indeed tough competition! – coincided perfectly with the other big announcement: the nation is on track for absolute chaos. And these two men must take a big share of the blame. 

But before we get on to that, let’s take a quick look back at their winning moments, shall we? First, unforgettably, there was Davis, way back in July. The Brexiteer-ultra managed two years in the job, during which time one can only assume he was largely manning the Dexeu tea-round because, so shocked was he by the contents of Theresa May’s Chequers deal, that he quit in fury following its release.

Which brings us onto our other big winner. A relative latecomer to the nominees, Raab, Davis’s successor, jumped ship just two weeks ago, after the Prime Minster reached an agreement with the EU; an agreement Raab said – and you’re definitely gonna laugh at this – would be “even worse” than staying in the EU.

No, no, suspend your disbelief, folks. Because as we officially learnt from yesterday’s other, lesser announcement: Raab wasn’t wrong. As the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, confirmed: the UK will indeed be worse off under Theresa May’s deal. Just as we will be worse off under a no-deal Brexit, and every other type of Brexit possible. There’s just no winning Brexit.

Of course, ERG leader and Brexiteer extremist Jacob Rees-Mogg disagreed, accusing Carney of forecasts “so hysterical that they’re hard to take seriously”. But his argument was discredited by the fact that, even if you weren’t happy to believe the economic analyses of the literal chief of the Bank of England, Carney’s predictions were mirrored by those of the government.

The Treasury yesterday announced that the UK’s economy would end up 3.9 per cent smaller after 15 years under the current Brexit plan than it would be if we remained in the EU. But let’s face it, as my colleague Patrick shows here, we shan’t be leaving the EU under the current Brexit plan.

Thanks to the actions of Davis and Raab, among other government Brexiteers, the UK is headed for a no-deal Brexit. One which, the Bank of England warned, will render our economy 8 per cent smaller by 2019, cause the pound to plunge by a quarter, see house prices fall by 30 per cent and unemployment almost double.

But that doesn’t matter to the two former Brexit secretaries. Why should it? Neither stands to lose their jobs. Neither Davis, who in 2007 was reported to have a net worth of £2.3m, nor Raab, who has degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge University, will ever have to queue in a foodbank, or worry about how they’re going to afford to wash their children’s school uniforms or sit and shiver instead of putting the heating on.

For the UK, Brexit is lose-lose. The poorest in our society will become poorer. But for the two former Brexit secretaries, it’s little more than a game – and one that, whatever happens, they are going to win. And now they have the awards to prove it.

Indra is the New Statesman’s senior sub-editor.

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