UK marks gloomy third year Brexit anniversary

In this Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 file photo Brexiteers celebrate in London.
In this Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 file photo Brexiteers celebrate in London. Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AFP
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Britain will be the only major economy to suffer a recession this year, according to IMF forecasts. Even sanction-slapped Russia is expected to grow.

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Britain has marked the third year anniversary of its historic break with the European Union in sombre conditions. 

Gripped by a grinding cost of living crisis, the country has few reasons to rejoice, with the International Monetary Fund offering grim predictions for its economic outlook on Tuesday. 

According to its latest forecast, Britain will be the only major economy to suffer a recession this year, with its economy shrinking by 0.6%. 

Even Russia, which is at war and slapped with a raft of international sanctions, is expected to grow.

Britain has struggled for months with inflation exceeding 10%, fuelling historic industrial unrest and pushing many households to the brink. 

On Wednesday, the largest wave of strikes in 10 years is expected, with education and transport particularly affected. 

Three Prime Ministers succeeded each other last year, and Northern Ireland is politically paralysed as London tries to convince Brussels to reconsider its post-Brexit status. 

Despite promises of border control and successive anti-immigration plans, illegal crossings of the Channel are constantly increasing.

'Bregret'

Three years after Big Ben chimed at 11:00 p.m. to mark the divorce, Brexiters' promises of more freedom seem a long way off, and there is a growing sense of Brexit regret or "Bregret" among the public. 

According to an Ipsos poll published on Monday, 45% of Britons believe that Brexit is going less well than expected -- compared to only 28% in June 2021. 

9% think the opposite.

Ousted from Downing Street last summer amid an avalanche of scandals, Boris Johnson displayed the same ironclad optimism that enabled him to win elections in 2019 and achieve Brexit after years of political psychodrama.

"Happy Brexit Day!" he tweeted with a video where he calls to "put aside all this negativity I hear about Brexit and remember the opportunities ahead".

Inside government, enthusiasm remained more measured and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, himself a Brexiteer, underlined the "enormous progress made in exploiting the freedoms offered by Brexit".

Even though the COVID pandemic and Ukraine war have considerably worsened the situation, there is considerable evidence that Brexit has damaged the economy.  

According to the public budget forecasting body OBR, leaving the EU will reduce the size of the UK economy by around 4% in the long term.

However, there is little political appetite for going back

The Conservative party remains committed to Brexit. Meanwhile, the Labour opposition, considerably ahead in the polls less than two years before the next election, is keen to avoid toxic debates around the issue

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Anxious to appeal to working-class Brexit voters, Labour leader Keir Starmer says a return to the EU is not on his agenda and the matter has been settled.

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