Sunday, 15 October 2017

Brexit. When Do We Need a Second Referendum?

Last year we had a Referendum on Brexit.  What mandate did it provide?  Is a new mandate needed?  When?

The Leave side aid it would be a “quick and easy” route to the sunlit uplands with more money for the NHS.  Reality is quite the opposite.  Negotiations have stalled, discussions of a trade deal still haven’t started with EU nor any other country, and the economic impact is likely to mean less money for the NHS.

On the other hand the Remain side exaggerated the likely impact of a Brexit vote in “Project Fear”.  Nonetheless there has been a dramatic drop in sterling’s value, prompting an unwanted rise in inflation, and the UK’s growth has dropped below the rest of the EU.  There is now the real prospect of a recession after actually leaving, unless something dramatic happens in the EU talks.

Leavers such as John Redwood led us to believe the UK had the stronger hand, as EU27 stood to lose more than UK if there wasn’t a good deal.  Unfortunately this overlooked that the EU have a trump card.  The EU have long said that they value keeping the EU27 together more than the loss of exports to Britain.  Whilst this position is maintained, the UK have little leverage in the talks.

Where does that leave the UK?  There is now open discussion of “no deal”, where the UK crashes out of the EU in March 2019.  That’s too soon to make adequate preparations, and would cost a fortune.    Here is a very clear statement of the implications, far more than just economic.

Last year’s referendum gave a mandate for the “quick and easy” vision.  It’s difficult to believe that many people voted with any real expectation of “no deal”.   So there is no clear mandate for "no deal".

Legally, it looks like the Article 50 notification can be unilaterally withdrawn, so the UK stays in the EU.   In any case it looks like the EU would welcome this, so remaining is a realistic option.
So far the UK has been divided.  The polls, though are now showing less support for Brexit.

Last year's referendum was based on fantasy predictions from both sides. A new mandate is required based on the reality we see.. To leave under any arrangement (and at any cost) or to remain.  When?  ASAP.

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