How would you spend £30,000,000,000?

Saturday 3 August 2019

The Office of Budget Responsibility has estimated* that the cost of a No Deal Brexit would be £30 billion.

This would be extra cost over and above the billions being spent on preparation for Brexit and it does not include either the “divorce bill” of £39 billion or the loss to the economy of 2% that the UK economy has already suffered, and certainly it does not include the longer term loss to the economy which is estimated at somewhere between 5% and 9% of GDP.


On Saturday we had 15 people out in Tonbridge distributing “No to No Deal” and other leaflets and talking to shoppers and asking people to express their views on the new Brexitometer.

The Brexitometer focussed on the extra cost of Mr Johnson’s do or die No Deal Brexit at £30 billion and we asked people out on the street in Tonbridge how they would spend that money.

We gave them five choices. They could spend it on:

  • The NHS and Social Care
  • Climate Change
  • No Deal Brexit
  • Education
  • Housing

182 people took part and each of them chose how to spend £30 billion and this is how they spent it:

7 people – 4% of those who took part spent theirs on a No Deal Brexit.

This figure understates the true number of people in favour of this as we an assume that those who called us disgusting and despicable and undemocratic (sometime with a fruity adjective) would have spent theirs on a no deal Brexit too. There were probably 15 or 20 people in this category.

The other 175 people spread theirs between the other headings with 

  • 35% going to the NHS and Social Care
  • 25% allocated to Climate Change
  • 22% to Housing and the remaining
  • 18% being spent on Education

As always a large number of people declined to take part – some saying they were fed up with the whole thing, others telling us they were “all right, thank you”. Many, again as always, are too busy with young children, with too many shopping bags or with their mobile phones to engage.

But amongst those who did engage, even most of those who did not agree with what we were doing, the discussions were polite and civilised.

What can we conclude from today? 

First that the pro-EU and anti-EU views are still pretty entrenched with few people moving one way or the other.

But also, that people of all persuasions strongly believe the country needs to spend significant amounts of money in areas other than Brexit.

Most of all, there were a lot of people who are very pro-EU, who do not want the UK to leave it, and who need to see that there are people out there who are determined to do everything they can to stop Brexit.

We give these people heart; and that is very important.

*All the figures in these two paragraphs are estimates. Sometimes individuals on the street have tried to dismiss them because they claim that all the estimates are wrong. Their argument is that because an estimate is not “right” the cost should be dismissed as not worth considering.

It is in no way valid to ignore a cost (effectively consider it as nil) because it is not possible to determine it with a high degree of accuracy.