Let’s Not Delay Brexit Until 2021 – That Would Be To Not Have Brexit

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The general European Union reaction to anything contradicting the European Project is as with a maiden aunt and nephews farting – to ignore what cannot possibly have just happened. It is this which drove the insistence on repeating earlier referenda until the right answer was returned as in the Dutch, French and Irish cases. It is this driving again the suggestion that Brexit should simply be delayed. Until perhaps 2021 in this latest case:

Brexit could be delayed until 2021, EU sources reveal

The underlying argument being that perhaps by then we’ll all have forgotten about it. Or we’ll have had an election. Or rerun the referendum. Or something. For surely, really, no one could be so uncouth as to parp upon the project, could they?

There is that point that we Leavers would make, that delay will mean the above, a rejection of that referendum vote. But there’s more to it than that as well:

Exasperation with May’s handling of Brexit is growing in Brussels as senior insiders put the chance of the UK crashing out without a deal at “more than 50%”.

The current holding of feet to the fire has increased that chance of the desired outcome, a no deal leaving. We’d be fools to relax that pressure now. But even then there’s more than just the parti pris to this:

But sources said the EU was determined to avoid a series of three-month extension requests by the UK, which would cause damaging uncertainty, leaving Brussels unable to plan for the future.

Uncertainty.

That’s the thing that is damaging investment and thereby the economy. The UK will do just fine whether in or out of the EU. As will the EU with or without the UK. Sure, matters might be marginally better either way and undoubtedly underlying prejudices will influence anyone’s counting in either direction. But uncertainty about what the final answer is going to be is what is delaying people doing anything.

There is a basic and great truth about many decisions. Which is that which decision is often enough rather less important than making one. In or out is perhaps less important than deciding to be one or the other. At which point delay just perpetuates the problem.

March 29 th is and should remain the day – delay will only make any problems worse.

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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

From the point of view of short-term economics*, the nature of the deal with which we leave is almost irrelevant, at most a rounding error – the Treasury, home of Project Fear, predict a 0.8% reduction in the rate of growth following our leaving on WTO terms. But what really does cause problems for businesses great and small is uncertainty. So the first job of government is to keep the uncertainty as short as possible. That means no second referendum and no kicking the can down the road for a few months/years. * Far and away the least important reason… Read more »