On 21 March 2017 I published a post entitled ‘My Predictions for the Outcome of the Brexit Negotiations’. You can read the original post below but my key points were: (i) there will be an agreement involving a three to four year transition period (ii) the UK and EU will negotiate a goods only trading agreement to take effect at the end of the transition period, similar to the EU agreement with Turkey, and (iii) there will be a major dispute in Cabinet when it finally becomes clear that the Brexit Ministers ‘have no clothes’, potentially leading to the downfall of the government. I went on to predict that if Brexit does go ahead, the UK will eventually rejoin the EU as the UK’s economy steadily falls behind the the EU27 and Leave voters suffer as the UK government cuts back on benefits they took for granted because of reduced tax income.
We are now closing in on the ‘moment of truth’, with just seven months to go before the Article 50 notice period ends on 29th March 2019.
It does appear that my predictions are so far on track, with certain modifications. It appears there will be a transition period when everything will remain the same, albeit two years instead of four. The UK government is seeking to agree a post-Brexit goods only trade policy similar to that with Turkey. There has been a bust-up in Cabinet, with two of the three Brexit ministers having resigned.
The one thing I did not predict was the emerging support for a second referendum: the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign. I did say that I hoped ‘events’ would bring about a change of policy at some point and we would not leave the EU after all. At present a second referendum remains unlikely in my view, but ‘events’ in the form of another election or a failure by the House of Commons to accept the final deal, or indeed a ‘no deal’ result, could lead to this outcome.
August 2018 has been a quiet month for Brexit, apart from the government issuing its guidance on the consequences of a ‘no deal’ outcome (which has received surprisingly little attention from the press). As we move into September, however, the pace of the negotiations is bound to pick up and we will soon reach the make or break moment when the UK and the EU27 will either agree a deal or not. It will then be up to the UK Parliament to decide what happens from that point on. Any deal will of course also have to be ratified by the EU Parliament and all 27 member states. However, I do not believe that will pose any problems as Michel Barnier has run a tight ship through the negotiations, maintaining the support of member state governments. If he approves a deal, I am sure it will stick on the European side. That is more than can be said for the UK, however, where both major parties are seriously divided on how to implement the referendum result.
At present I think it is impossible for anyone to predict how the final negotiations will play out. I would say it is still more likely Brexit will go ahead than not, but the chance of a second referendum has definitely increased. Do not believe anyone who tells you know they know for certain what will happen!