By Laurence Kotlikoff
Britain's non-binding resolution, to leave the EU (aka Brexit) is moving forward because one weak-willed and weak-minded politician, U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May, is treating the 2016 opinion poll as legally binding. It wasn't and isn't.
Anyone who has seriously studied economics knows that free trade is essential to economic welfare and growth. Nevertheless, May is now actively orchestrating the U.K.'s long-term economic decline. Leaving the EU will leave the island facing tariffs from its largest trading partner (the non-U.K. EU) and at the economic mercy of the United States, whose baby Fuhrer treats both May and the U.K. with utter disdain.
Churchill said, "Courage is what it takes to sit down and listen." Teresa May needs to sit down and listen -- not to her political base, not to her political advisers, not to her PR consultants, but to the world's top economists as well as to the British public.
The Brexit June 23, 2016 Brexit poll is not the only poll to be considered. May should poll the world's Nobel Laureates in economics. I predict that each will advise remaining in the EU. May should also poll the economists in every top economics department around the world. Again, I predict overwhelming support for remaining in the EU. Let her also poll the top U.K. economists. They will repeat, what they said back in 2016, namely that Brexit is a terrible mistake. And let May consult the latest poll of the British public. It shows more Brits favoring staying in the EU than leaving.
People change their minds. Within a month of Brexit's vote, more Brits said they wanted to stay in the EU than leave. Prime Ministers can also change their minds. If May cared about her country as opposed to her career she would exit Brexit. At a minimum, she should put the final deal up for public vote and see if the Brexit that is, not the Brexit that might have been, truly meets public approval.
The folly of Brexit is hard to overstate. The U.K. is physically and economically smaller than California. Imagine California leaving the U.S. and taking its massive federal tax revenue with it. Short of invading the Golden State, the federal government would put up tariffs to make California pay for leaving the club while still enjoying most of the benefits of club membership, including the military's nuclear umbrella.