The leaving path – or paths

There has been much confusion and speculation following the ‘leave’ vote in June. This cannot come as a surprise given that the country has voted for a path that no one has ever been down before. The main focus has been on having your cake (single market) and eating it (new migration restrictions). There are those who plead for membership of the European Economic Area (more cake and less eating). And others have suggested simply repealing the European Communities Act as a fast path to brexit.

Meanwhile reality may restrict the number of possible outcomes. There are two things I have in mind here. On the one hand, it will become apparent that revising fourty years’ legislation is going to be an immense task – the work involved in changing the status quo has not yet been estimated, but it will be big. Maybe too big? And on the other hand, my expectation is that the uncertainty that will continue for at least the next two years will lead to a slowdown in investment that will lead to a slowdown in the economy, that people will notice and will not like. If public opinion shows a decisive shift towards ‘remain’ (say, 70%), then I expect the politicians will find a way to avoid an outcome the majority no longer wants. This might be through a general election, or through a referendum approving or rejecting the exit negociation results.

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