Image: Wikimedia
Image: Wikimedia

We have been here before, the UK has done Brexit before, when Henry VIII was King of England. But did it work? What are the lessons of history?

Among Henry VIII’s lesser known advisers was one Lord Nigel Farage – well maybe things were not that similar, but there are certainly similarities between the Brexit of 2016 and a 16th-century version.

Of course, back then there was no referendum, rather the King of England wanted another wife, but he also blamed taxes imposed on England from Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries certainly freed up some cash.

But did it work? Nomura has been asking that very question.

Well, the data speaks for itself – almost.

100 hundred years after 1547, when England’s most infamous king died, GDP per capita in England was actually lower.

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Among Henry VIII’s lesser known advisers was one Lord Nigel Farage – well maybe things were not that similar, but there are certainly similarities between the Brexit of 2016 and a 16th-century version.

Of course, back then there was no referendum, rather the King of England wanted another wife, but he also blamed taxes imposed on England from Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries certainly freed up some cash.

But did it work? Nomura has been asking that very question.

Well, the data speaks for itself – almost.

100 hundred years after 1547, when England’s most infamous king died, GDP per capita in England was actually lower.

Of course, the row over Brexit continued for a long time, with the Brexit camp, headed by Oliver Cromwell, fighting attempts by a rejuvenated Remain camp, led by James and Charles the First, to re-run the referendum and re-join the EU – or the Catholic Church, as it was then called.

But would the industrial revolution, or the great era of British-led exploration, have occurred without this earlier form of Brexit?  One famous German Sociologist, Max Weber, talked about the industrial revolution being led by the Puritan work ethic, would the UK have enjoyed its success in the New World if it had remained under the rule of Rome, with its edicts about dividing the world between Spain and Portugal?

We can never know for sure.

Something happened in Britain to create the foundations of the industrial revolution, and leaving the Catholic Church under Henry VIII, is as good a candidate as any.

But there is one snag. The economic benefits of this first Brexit, if indeed there were any, took around 200 years to even begin to show-up.

Okay, these days things work quicker, but the time-lags that the lesson of history reveals to us are pretty telling.

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