On March 29th the Brexit odyssey is scheduled to conclude.
The original question at the referendum in 2016 was as follows:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
- Remain a member of the European Union
- Leave the European Union
As of today, there are many possibilities still on the table… the most commonly discussed are:
- Deal Brexit
- No Deal Brexit
- No Brexit
- Second Brexit Referendum
- Postpone Brexit
I am not proposing anything revolutionary, but I think the option of having a Deal/No Deal referendum was not discussed enough yet.
First, let’s remember that the “deal” is a 585 pages long withdrawal agreement. Frankly I am inclined to doubt that more than a handful of people ever read it all, and for this reason I am instinctively skeptic when I hear someone saying they feel strongly for or against the deal.
Having said that: on one hand a no deal scenario would break every existing relationship EU/UK from day 1, creating huge discontinuity and the chaos and uncertainty that will affect UK at the very least for a few months will leave a profound mark on the local economy; on the other hand the current deal means UK will be subject to current and future EU laws without having a say on them, and this is a very exploitable loophole that will leave UK a satellite state.
In my opinion the current deal for brexit will cause further stir in a few years and will lead to a new movement for more independence that will force to cancel or renegotiate the deal, hence further uncertainty, instability… UK is a strong country, but I don’t believe it should risk going through a decade-long brexit process.
Going to point 3. , democracy means democracy, just like no means no and leave means leave… having a second referendum against the same question is remindful of the behaviour of those school bullies aiming to intimidate their prey… “wrong answer, try again!”.
Similarly not leaving the EU at all, would undermine democracy by making clear that it’s little more than a hollow box in which the population has not much of a say on things that matter.
Lastly, postponing has many downsides: first and foremost the EU will come to new elections and the deal that will be signed from current EU representatives is not necessarily going to be signed from those who will come after the elections. Also, it would mean UK having to vote for an institution the are planning to leave, which is awkward at least. Lastly, after 2 years of negotiation we are still nowhere closer to a solution than we were 2 years ago, and postponing may be a very weak signal to send to EU as well as to the markets that control a large slice of the economy.
Having a deal/no deal referendum would have the following advantages for the UK:
- would be voted applying logics that aim to benefit the whole country rather than one party or another (such as: if brexit succeeds/fails we’ll win the next elections)
- it would respect the original vote and not undermine democracy
- it would give UK a strong mandate to negotiate the best possible deal from the EU: EU surely is interested in keeping the UK under its sphere of influence, rather than letting it go towards the USA, and in the case of a referendum it would need strike a deal that persuades as much of the population as possible.
There were many things that I think UK could have done better, from strengthening the bonds with the commonwealth to go and negotiate from a stronger position, to coming up with a strong largely agreed position within the parliament Before initiating the negotiation with EU, but the current political class took many unexpected decisions, so I don’t necessarily expect that a deal/no deal referendum will be implemented. Nonetheless, it does seem to me like the best option on the table now that only 2 months are left.