The hypotheticals on the journey to Remain are many, but conversations with experts confirm that there is hope left for pro-Europeansby Alex Dean / July 12, 2017 / Leave a comment
Britain is leaving the European Union. These are uncertain political times, but this, understandably, remains conventional wisdom. Whatever the confusion surrounding the precise nature of Brexit, not to mention the route by which we are to get there, Britain will, one day down the line, leave the pesky Eurocrats behind. This much looks certain, to Remainers and Brexiteers alike.
After all, Theresa May has triggered Article 50. Negotiations have begun. The government has committed totally to Brexit, as has the opposition. The repeal bill, which will transpose EU law into British law—a key marker in the Brexit process—will be published tomorrow. When I asked prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg about those who seek to thwart Brexit, he shot back: “I don’t think they’ll win.” MPs who fight back are accused of trying to subvert the will of the British people.
However, Brexit may not be so certain as these facts suggest. Chat to senior pro-European politicians, activists and legal experts, and a plausible picture of the future emerges in which Britain remains an EU member after all. Is this outcome likely? No. Is it possible? Absolutely. The country is headed for a monumental economic shock, and even the smallest change in public opinion could render politically necessary the now unthinkable.
Vince Cable was right to raise the point over the weekend, and confirmed to me today that a scenario in which Britain Remains “could well occur.” He is not the only pro-EU politician to harbour this suspicion.
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, voted against triggering Article 50 in February. She told me: “Britain’s departure from the EU may not be a certainty” thanks to “strong economic headwinds we’re facing.”
It’s a point worth considering, especially given that these headwinds look set to get stronger still. Unnerved by Brexit, the economy is beginning to turn. Inflation is starting to bite, and the Bank of England predicts that it could rise above 3 per cent by the Autumn. The squeeze on living standards will only increase as our exit draws nearer. Added to this, business confidence is plummeting. Reports have emerged that investment in the UK car industry this year will be less than half what it was in 2016.