Before the election
Before the general election, whether we reached a deal with the EU or not, did not seem to matter much. We seemed determined to head for a Hard Brexit, which looked similar to No Deal.
With the UK outside the Single Market and Customs Union, we would face a massive negative economic shock and potentially a resulting financial crisis. I did not discount the idea that we might not leave the EU or get a Soft Brexit, but did not see a path to get there. (https://appliedmacro.com/2017/05/04/what-game-are-brexiteers-playing/)
This all changed with the election…..
The election result
After the election, there is no longer a mandate, either for Hard Brexit or for exiting without a deal. I loved the article in the FT last week which laid out 6 options (https://www.ft.com/content/7be243f2-51ae-11e7-a1f2-db19572361bb) It is very funny and I highly recommend a read. I will leave the comedy to Robert Shrimsley, and think about what paths are likely now.
What is striking about any possible path is that none have a mandate or parliamentary majority.
Let’s start by separating them into:
- No Deal
What does a Deal look like?
A deal will have to cover an extremely broad range of areas:
- Rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK
- Settling the accounts (“Brexit Bill”)
- What to do with Northern Ireland
- Single Market
- Customs Union
- Trade agreement
- Services agreement
- Role of ECJ
- Etc ……
the mind boggles at how complex this is.
It is very hard for me to see the current UK government managing to cobble together a common negotiating position on all of these in its tenuous state, never mind go through all the details with the EU.
Although the tide of public opinion seems to have turned against her mindless slogans, Theresa May seems likely to go on, for as long as possible, using silly phrases like “Brexit means Brexit” and “Strong and Stable” and “Red, White and Blue Brexit”. Her problem is that any attempt to lay out a strategy with sufficient clarity that the EU can understand it, is likely to bring down her government.
There is no parliamentary majority FOR any Brexit option, but I think there is a parliamentary majority AGAINST all of them.
The fall of the government would lead to another election. In this, I am not too optimistic that the main parties will lay out clear and distinct sets of ideas on Brexit. May previously tried this and completely failed. The “success” of Corbyn was perhaps to be so incoherent on Brexit that no one understood it well enough to object to it.
So again, how can a government without a clear UK negotiating position make a deal?
Maybe they just can’t.
What does no Deal look like?
Which means we get left with No Deal.
This has two clear and distinct paths:
i) Stay in the EU
ii) Leave without a Deal
Now I really do not know which is more likely.
A new Referendum posing this much clearer question?
My money would be that the vote will go against whatever the government in power proposes.
If May wants to Remain then we will Leave, if she wants Hard Brexit we will stay.
Brexit has gone from being an odds-on fiasco to utter chaos.
I am not sure yet if this is better or worse.