It is too early to assess Brexit but there seems to be UK confidence

Morning View

Morning View

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Britain’s large trade gap narrowed in July, and Brexit is probably the main reason why it did.

Exports jumped in the first full month after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

A major reason for the surge is the plunge in the value of the pound after the referendum vote on June 23.

This has made UK goods more competitive on the global market, helping exports to grow.

It comes amid reports of buoyant tourism figures across Britain and Ireland this summer, and high hotel occupancy rates on both sides of the Irish border. The Republic is in the eurozone so the healthy tourism levels cannot be entirely attributed to a weaker pound, and is partly a reflection of the ever growing number of people around the world who are affluent enough to travel overseas. But the cheaper pound has meant visitors are spending more.

The collapse in sterling after Black Wednesday in 1992 is considered by many economists to have been a key factor in the 15-year boom that followed in the UK. The current slump is at least giving the economy a short-term fix.

None of these statistics mean that Brexit will be plain sailing, but they have emerged in addition to opinion poll data in both Scotland and Northern Ireland which suggests that quitting the EU has only led to a modest rise in support for separatism in either devolved region. We can say that confidence in the UK as an entity and in its overall economy is holding, and rule out imminent disaster.

The future course of the UK outside Europe remains unclear, and will tax Downing Street for years, and there are huge challenges ahead, but post Brexit hindsight is if anything emphasising the deep problems that there were and still are with the EU. It expanded too fast to become a superstate, as some federalist cheerleaders did want it to be.

Even before June 23, the UK was on an increasingly remote outer tier of the EU. Now it is free to strike a new relationship with the EU, unafraid of catastrophe outside it.