"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Second Brexit Referendum: a Positive Resolution

It is clear that the the next Prime Minister after Cameron will have a tough time deciding whether to recommend to Parliament that the UK should make an Article 50 notification (of the Lisbon Treaty) to the European Council. The current timetable is that the Conservatives intend a quick election campaign, appointing their leader (and hence the Prime Minister) by the beginning of September.

If the UK goes into recession  then there will be political pressure not to invoke the A50 notification which will be seen as an action that could make matters worse. (Technically the country cannot go into recessions because the definition is that there has to be two quarters of negative growth, and September is less than two quarters away, so I should say "if it looks like the country is heading into recession".)

In the few optimistic moments I have had over the weekend I have come up with this scenario.

The UK Parliament will have to approve the A50 notification, and Parliament is about to go into summer recess and does not meet again until September, then pauses for the party conferences, and real business starts in October. So the A50 notification cannot be done before October. At which point there will be:

  • a new Prime Minister (which could be pro-Remain May or Osborne); 
  • a summer of the civil service planning for how long, and how many resources, it would take to disentangle EU laws from UK law (most likely: a long time and a lot of people that they do not have); 
  • a summer of MPs talking to businesses and communities and finding out the real effect of Brexit (a lot of scare stories will be gathered); and 
  • the party conferences allowing MPs to get the opinion of party members. 

After all of this, a good many of the "the people have spoken" MPs will think "maybe if we can get a better deal then the people will think again".

Since it was clear that immigration was the top line issue during the referendum, the "better deal" will have to be about immigration from the EU. We know that it is a red line for the EU: access to the single market, inside or outside the EU has to have an agreement on free movement of people. That won't change.

In my opinion, immigration is good, but you have to have the infrastructure for the increase in population. So the "better deal" I suggest is that the EU will have to agree to pay for the building of this infrastructure: schools, health centres, hospitals, as well as social housing, in areas with a large influx of EU migrants. This policy would cover the entire EU, not just the UK, so it could get the approval of all countries. Such a policy would mean that EU migrants will no longer be seen as a drain on public services, but will be seen as the reason for the improvement of public services. A positive policy, and a second referendum will approve it, in my opinion.