The Default for Change is No change

Commentators seem to be so obsessed with the fantastical agenda being set by squabbling ministers and Parliamentarians and the byzantine yet fascinating complexity of procedural and constitutional rules that they are ignoring the obvious. Namely, if as of now, no means or terms can be agreed to bring about change in the UK relationship with the EU, there will be no change. Talk of  ‘no deal’ as the ‘default’  ignores the fact that ‘no deal’ is a deal that would now need Parliamentary support to be realised.

It will be interesting to see whether the default status quo will become ‘reestablished’ by effluxion of time or by the political class coming clean with ‘the people’ by explaining that Brexit never was a real option and then going on to revoke Article 50.

Revocation, though bringing all the benefits of certainty to business and the country as a whole, seems unlikely. Why? Because, unless the Brexitiers try to sell it as a reset to start again, it would require  the politicians to admit that Brexit was never a realistic option and to apologise to ‘the people’ for misleading them. Reestablishing the status quo by effluxion of time is easier to envisage. With the EU keen for the UK to remain, there is no reason why the UK should not take part in the up-coming EU elections and continue as a fully paid up member for the long term albeit, in law, being able to reactivate the Article 50 process at any time, arguably an unimportant detail given that any member state may at any time set the Article 50 process in train if so minded. Such a technical distinction between the terms of the UK’s membership and those of other members would be very small beer compared to the opt outs which the UK already enjoys on matters of real practical importance such as the Euro and Schengen.

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