Whatever the sympathetic utterances from Brussels, there will be no “Brexit Deal” in the foreseeable future. However, there may well be an “Exit Deal” which sees the UK secede from the EU but remain bound by its rules until ‘something better’ can be agreed for the longer term. But what could be better for the EU in any terms than a non-voting participant in the Single Market? With the UK continuing to be a net contributor to the budget, continuing to allow free movement of people, goods, capital and services and abiding by EU law, how would the governments of the remaining member states persuade their electorates in the future that they should agree to give up the money and the freedoms they would still be enjoying? It is not that there would be nothing in a free trade deal for the remaining EU members states: far from it. There would be a lot in it for them and all of it would be damaging. Since when did countries sign up to free trade deals that restricted trade?
That said, there is no indication that anyone is likely to be willing to explain to the UK electorate
- that Brexit is not on offer save in the dreams of the Brexitiers and the nightmares of the Remoaners;
- that a second referendum would amount to misleading the electorate for a second time into believing that there is a feasible way out of the EU and
- that the only options are to remain in the EU with full rights to participate as a member or leave it and become a “vassal state”.
Given the lack courage and seeming stupidity so far demonstrated by most of the main players, the likelihood must be that we will not interrupt the Article 50 process and so, by default, slide into indefinite serfdom.