Nothing. That’s the sum total of all knowledge across the European Union. 508 million people with a combined, collective knowledge of nothing and yet almost everybody in the UK seems to believe they know something – that Brexit is either very, very good or very, very bad. It seems to depend on where you got your crystal ball.
This is quite a bold statement to make so let’s break it down and try to establish whether these beliefs are well founded or not.
When is Brexit? Well assuming that we don’t have a second referendum, a people’s vote or a new general election, the UK is ‘due’ to leave the EU at midnight on 29 March 2019. I say due to leave as this is the prescribed two-year period after the UK triggered Article 50. No one has done this before and therefore the rules can change; or at least their application can. Withdrawal agreement talks were due to conclude in October, but we are now informed that this date has moved back. Assuming that a Deal is increasing in likelihood then the transition period currently set to run until December 2020 could also be extended, albeit that the EU does not appear to want that outcome. So the simple answer is Brexit may or may not occur on 29 March 2019 and the changes for EU citizens’ may or may not occur sometime beyond that date.
What will happen after Brexit? We assume, and there are lots of assumptions here, that Brexit will occur, and that it will occur on or sometime after March 2019. After that everything or nothing will change; or perhaps something in between the two. We don’t know. We can’t know until we establish if the UK will leave the EU and whether it leaves on a Deal basis, a No Deal basis or WTO basis.
Who will decide what happens? Initially the British people decided by a vote in June 2016 but we are now facing calls from a large number of people who claim that the voters were misinformed and that the people would have voted differently had they know what Brexit would really mean and here’s the thing; we still don’t know.
Will the economy go up or down, will planes be grounded and will medicines run short?
Err, we don’t know. Ask ‘remainers’ and they will tell you that all manner of bad things will happen; ask ‘leavers’ and they will tell you it will be like winning the lottery. The truth lies somewhere in between I suspect. Forecasting the economy is always a tricky business; even in calmer political climates, so again the answer must reasonably be that we just don’t know.
Maybe we should back Brexit, as per the democratic vote, and then a new political party called UKEP (UKEuropeParty) could challenge UKIP and the other parties (albeit we don’t know who is in favour or against Brexit) and then have a people’s vote and perhaps even call it a general election and if UKEP win we could apply to re-join the EU. At least at that stage we will all truly know what Brexit really means, and the people will be well and truly informed. If all this sounds fanciful then I challenge anybody to come up with a better way to decide; as in the current climate we know NOTHING about Brexit. We are not even sure when we will know.