Muscatelli: no-deal Brexit would be ‘unhinged self-sabotage’

Russell Group chair says politicians have ‘moral obligation’ to stop UK crashing out of EU without an agreement

October 2, 2018
Anton Muscatelli

A no-deal Brexit “would represent the most unhinged example of national self-sabotage in living memory”, University of Glasgow principal and vice-chancellor Sir Anton Muscatelli has warned.

Speaking at a summit about the impact of Brexit in Glasgow, Sir Anton, the chair of the Russell Group, said that politicians had a “moral obligation” to try to prevent the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

“All logic” indicated that keeping the UK in the single market after Brexit was the right thing to do, said Sir Anton, a leading economist, who emphasised that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

The intervention came amid growing concern about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on higher education. The government has warned that grants promised to UK-based academics from the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie initiative could be jeopardised if the UK exits without a deal.

Sir Anton warned that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be “dire” across wide swathes of the economy and that “there has been no comparable experience of a member of a regional trade association or free-trade area crashing out of that area without agreement”.

“In my view, a hard Brexit would represent the most unhinged example of national self-sabotage in living memory – and everyone in public life has a duty, a moral obligation, to do what we can to prevent it,” Sir Anton said.

He added: “Any politician refusing to try – who won’t even attempt to soften the pain of Brexit by making the case for single market membership, which all logic tells them is the right thing to do – is guilty of a serious dereliction of duty.

“And if their failure of leadership sets our economy and our society back for generations, history will judge them very harshly indeed.”

Sir Anton also highlighted the importance of EU nationals in Glasgow’s workforce, warning that “any barrier to our ability to recruit and work with the best minds from across Europe would have a huge impact on future economic growth and productivity in Scotland”.

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