As I write this we are waiting for Theresa May to resign as Prime Minister (maybe tomorrow), the results of the European parliamentary elections (10pm Sunday night) and some concrete steps towards a Brexit outcome (who knows when – but we will need something by 31 October).
Despite all this hanging around, some things are becoming clear.
In keeping with the impatient mood of the country, I will be blunter than usual.
I’m not going to explain Theresa May’s new Brexit deal to you because it is already dead, a compromise too far for many in her own party and not enough compromise to gain support from Labour MPs.
Theresa May will stand down soon; maybe tomorrow, but she may hang on for another week or so whilst MPs are on their Whitsun holiday and may be caretaker a little longer whilst her successor is chosen.
There will be a new Conservative party leader and Prime Minister by the end of the summer.
The rise of the Brexit Party and the views of the Conservative party membership will ensure that the new leader and Prime Minister:
- will be a ‘Brexiteer’
- will seek to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement with the EU (looking to remove the Irish backstop) and
- will pursue a no-deal Brexit if concessions can not be agreed.
‘Soft Brexit’ looks dead. Positions have hardened and polarised (EU election results are likely to bear this out).
The most likely Brexit outcome is no-deal or no Brexit. Either of these could happen as a result of a 2nd referendum or parliament or Ministers taking a conscious decision.
An election in the next 9 months is a good possibility - although fear of wipe-out may deter the main parties from bringing this on.
The winners in the next election will probably be those with leaders who best position themselves as anti-establishment challengers; at the moment Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn look best placed to do so.
What does this mean?
Businesses and other organisations should:
- Plan for a no-deal Brexit on or after 31 October. It is more likely than ever.
- Plan for a very different type of government: the centre right / centre left consensus of politics is over.
As my colleague Tom said last month, “business needs to be prepared for political outcomes and policies that may have been previously unimaginable”.
The most likely Brexit outcome is no-deal or no Brexit. The winners in the next election will probably be those with leaders who best position themselves as anti-establishment challengers.