Brexit: The Final Countdown?

Brexit: The Final Countdown?

On Tuesday 26th March 2019, Portland hosted a breakfast panel, Brexit: The Final Countdown? Discussing the Article 50 extension and what happens next. The panel included Sam Gyimah MP, Stephen Wall, Liam Halligan, Alastair Campbell and Laura Trott.

Here’s a quick rundown of the key points from the panel discussion:

  1. With your heart, not your head: Have we been naïve in expecting the 27-member states to think rationally and in economic terms during our negotiation and discourse? The panel discussed the importance of recognising the emotional drivers behind the decisions and reactions of our soon-to-be-ex-neighbours in the EU, where integrity is dictating discussion and responses around Brexit.
  2. From Labour v Tory – to Leave v Remain: The panel discussed how politics in Britain faces an upheaval like we’ve never seen before, post-Brexit. Already, divisive groups are forming within the traditional camps, and MPs reaction to varying public opinion will continue creating a long journey of change within politics in the coming years which might refocus away from no longer relevant manifestos. The panel anticipated that MPs will begin, if not already, taking serious note of the local perspective and sentiment within their constituency, driving further disruption to our ideas and preconceptions about what is possible with Brexit.
  3. The last straw, again: Throughout the discussion, the need to recognise growing fractious public opinion was raised repeatedly by the panel. Given the integral role which a Brexit-educated, and more informed public will have in shaping the structure of our political parties in the coming years, it was a present part of the discussion about an Article 50 extension.
  4. The continent’s movements: Further questions provoked a discussion on the political trajectory of the EU and impact of shifting national opinion on the continent. Given the difficulty in predicting the EU’s movements, even in the next five years, the panel noted we should be cautious about predicting the health and status of own British relationship with Europe. Points were raised about the shift in response to centralised politics across many members states, with several countries waiting to evaluate the outcome of Brexit on Britain before implementing their own agendas.
  5. Towards Friday 29 March: Opinions were shared about how meaningful this week’s indicative voting will turn out to be. Key points were raised around whether MPs will have the confidence to back a vote for a second referendum. The panellists discussed how the number of softer Brexiteers, who favour a customs union or a Norway-style Brexit, might indeed impact remainers in backing May’s Brexit deal.

When asked where we saw the UK in a month’s time, all panellists opted for “in a period of extension”, with a few noting the potential advance towards the opportunity for revocation on Article 50. Unsurprisingly, all caveated these predictions to the audience…

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