Brexit after UK election (1): Assume no change
The outcome of the British general election was a bombshell, but many of the headlines about Brexit impact are the purest of speculation. A week on, the New Financial group has published a paper on thewonk.eu which attempts to put hard facts on the outcome.
It would be foolish of any British company to alter its contingency planning on the basis of the result. The timetable remains the same and the clock is ticking; the EU position is unchanged; there is no cross-party consensus on a UK position; the most likely outcome is still exit from the customs union with no deal.
The things that have changed are internal to the British political scene and most are immeasurable or even intangible: a massive loss of authority, some change in tone, a lesser focus on immigration, a few changes in personnel. The idea that voters rejected an exit from the single market and Theresa May will act accordingly is highly attractive to everyone on the island of Ireland, but where is there an iota of evidence?
The numbers mean there is potential for the House of Commons to reassert itself in terms of a final settlement, but that would require some unlikely cross-party cooperation. The great problem remains that there is no coherent, powerful advocate of a ‘softer’ Brexit that could be the focal point of opposition to ‘no deal better than bad deal’.
The authors put forward their own ‘workable solution’: the target for March 2019 should be a five-year interim agreement on the lines of EEA membership with a view to a permanent deal thereafter. Now, who would like to fight another general election in the autumn based on that platform?