Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Brexit. Brexit. Brexit. It’s been Groundhog Day for the last two years, only more hopeless. Most people reading this are sick to death of the whole thing, and yet it goes on. And on. And on. May’s deal suffered the worst defeat in history, Corbyn’s no confidence vote has failed, and the only political voice anyone can agree on is Danny Dyer’s. The sad news is if you thought things were unclear before, it’s just got a whole lot worse. We’re in completely uncharted territory, and it’s safe to say anything can happen. With that in mind, a filter coffee and my head in my hands, I’m going to look at what could happen next…
No Deal Brexit
Firstly, I do want to make one thing clear amongst all the doom and gloom. Wishing everyone would just ‘get on with it’ is a very reasonable thing to think. It’s been going on forever, and it’s driving us crazy. But don’t let this thinking lead you into passively accepting no deal. This mess is awful, but no deal would definitely be worse. No deal Brexit means that after March 29th, we cut off all ties with the EU just like that. We would lose all our trade benefits, (nearly half of all our trade is with the EU), freedom of movement, and we’ll have to negotiate all that with the EU and whoever else is going to boost our economy the way the EU used to.
This isn’t project fear, and armageddon predictions. Put simply, none of the arguments for no deal are based in fact, simply because most of them can’t be. It’s unprecedented. Nobody knows how we’d try and become a world power in a globalised age outside of the EU because it’s never happened before. Far from speeding up this process, no deal would propel us into years of uncertainty, desperately trying to negotiate trade deals, political agreements, transnational environmental policies and the list goes on and on.
We must leave the EU with some kind of deal that doesn’t plunge us into uncertainty. This isn’t even taking into account the issue of a hard border with Northern Ireland, something which could feasibly happen with No Deal, which would be catastrophic.
Is it likely?
I don’t think this is very likely. There isn’t a majority in Parliament for it, or indeed the country. Some Leave voters wanted no deal, but many also wanted a deal. Most MPs recognise that it is an extreme measure of leaving the EU, and there is cross-party support in blocking this.
This could be another way of breaking the deadlock. Sending the issue back to the people could fix this situation. It also may not. A second referendum is the last thing many people want right now, but we must recognise the failures of the first. The classic arguments against this have no substance: “We voted to leave, so get on with it!”, “We’ve already had a referendum, just accept the result and stop moaning!” Many people who voted leave wanted no deal, but many also wanted a deal. 2% of the electorate swung the referendum, and there was no consensus over how to leave the EU. There is also the argument that far from being ‘treacherous’, further democracy cannot be anti-democratic.
The first referendum was handled atrociously. Both campaigns were appalling. The Remain campaign was uninspiring, condescending and negative. The Leave campaign was fraught with lies, an mythology akin to Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’, and incompetence. Everything on both sides was wildly exaggerated, and most of it not based on fact. Importantly, the question was also flawed. Many people who voted leave wanted no deal, but many also wanted a deal.
The question of: Leave/Remain gives no specifics. How do we leave? This would have been answered by a coherent plan by the Leave Campaign. But there was none. This already makes the case for a second referendum quite well, but this is furthered by the political impasse we now find ourselves in. In a political climate where it seems there isn’t a consensus among our elected representatives, why not go back to the people to decide?
Is it likely?
While a People’s Vote would have seemed the most unlikeliest option even a year ago, now it’s very much on the cards. Although it doesn’t have a majority, it is the only thing I can see genuine cross-party support for. It would only come about if the massive amount of pressure within the Labour Party convinced Jeremy Corbyn to support it. The Labour Party have already said that if, as expected, their no confidence vote fails, they’ll consider it, so this chain of events could happen.
I do have many reservations about a People’s Vote, due to the damage the first one caused. Hate crime shot 29% up during the referendum, and politics discourse has continued to suffer. Also, what happens if we have the same result? With the same government, and same outcome, won’t we be in exactly the same sh*tstorm? This brings me onto the last outcome.
A General Election
This theoretically could happen. But this has been the case for the last two years. Labour would obviously want this more than anything, and would make any election not just about Brexit, but all the social and economic issues that they believe the Conservatives are responsible for.
Is this likely?
This is very unlikely at the moment. The DUP still back the Tories in these matters, and the only thing, the only thing, this conflicted Conservative party are united on, is their opposition to Labour.
I’ve covered here the three biggest outcomes that could happen, but I have left out a few. The government will set out their new plans on Monday, and Theresa May could go back to Brussels and negotiate another deal. This could happen, but this new deal would likely not satisfy anyone either, with the EU’s negotiating stance remaining pretty much constant.