28th November 2018
A day or so ago this blog set out that in the current fog of Brexit there were three visible paths: Deal, No Deal, or (even) No Brexit.
That is still the case, and others – no doubt more sensible – can also see other paths, such as ones which head toward a further referendum or an extension of the Article 50 period.
Today’s post is about what an odd situation this is, given we are now only a few months away from when the UK is set to leave the EU by automatic operation of law, unless (as I aways say) something exceptional happens.
We have had the Article 50 notification, we have had negotiations, we have had “sufficient progress” and a joint report, and we now have a draft withdrawal agreement agreed in principle between the UK and EU, and which has been approved at a senior level at the EU. All which is now required is formal acceptance and ratification on both sides.
This should be the most certain point in the Brexit story so far. All the formalities are in place for an orderly departure.
And yet: Brexit has never been as uncertain as it seems today.
No pundit or politician can confidently guess what will happen.
All we can do is work out the defaults, and the choices open so as to avoid or delay those defaults: what things require more effort or external factors and so on.
That, however, is no better than having an idea of which horses or athletes are likely to win a given race. Some are more likely – the “ones to beat” – but that is all.
One day, a historian, with better access to official materials but with less access to the mood of the time, will assert that whatever outcome we are in for was inevitable all along.
And some pundits who currently cannot forecast what will happen will also purport to explain why an outcome was always pre-determined.
But such neatness and clarity is not available to us now.
We have only fog, and some paths visible and some not visible.
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