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The final countdown begins – A look back at our ‘Brexit breakfast’

As we hit June, the EU referendum is fast approaching and the noise around both the Leave and Remain camps is hitting a crescendo. Sterling has swung dramatically in line with opinion polls; however, despite a lot of noise and hard-line messages from key figures, there is still a vast amount of uncertainty hanging over the outcome of the vote. 

This means that we’re faced with heavy reporting from every avenue, and with the ITV debates with Farage and Cameron this evening, the arguments will surely come to a head.

So pushing into the final couple of weeks we’re having a look back to our Brexit thought leadership breakfast event with Political Editor of The Economist, John Peet. Read our previous article here.

The big vote

John spoke then, and it has been reported since, that with a largely equal opinion split for the most part, the turn-out of voters will be a huge influence on which way the vote will swing. The prediction is that with a 60+% turn out we will Remain, and with a less than 60% turn out we will Leave.

Overall, there seems to be two main reasons why the turn out number could be low:

1)  The confusion around the debate- it’s highly complex and multi-faceted arguments which is causing uncertainty.

2)  The general trend that the younger generation don’t tend to vote and thus a disproportionate amount of the older electorate will turn out at the polls.

Predictions of a post-Brexit UK

During our Brexit breakfast, we asked John Peet for his best guess on what a post-Leave trade agreement would look like:

  • We would likely quickly try to retain and replicate as much as possible of existing agreements and structures – namely because it is by far the easiest route, no matter the side of the fence
  • A concerted effort to avoid the high 10% + tariffs that would/could be imposed on trade and manufacturing
  • A vast amount of complex and long negotiations for free trade deals on goods, but not on services (we would almost certainly be forced to create subsidiary business inside the EU to continue to operate in banking / consultancy etc.)
  • We would probably quickly come to terms with the fact that to discourage copycat leavers the EU would be heavily bias against us in all negotiations especially the French and German parties that are so heavily invested in the Union.
  • Scotland would call for another referendum vote, and Northern Ireland would potentially be similarly encouraged to call for independence

But realistically, no one really knows what would happen if we Leave, and equally even if we Remain the future isn’t 100% clear cut; so confusion currently seems to reign supreme and speculation abound. The debate has moved from being one of economic policy, to something far more political, and with not much time to go, the state of uncertainty lingers. 

Another key point raised was whilst there are admittedly flaws inside the democratic structure of the union, the noise around the black-and-white in/out referendum means that it’s more difficult to keep talking about the issue of reforming the union as a whole. There have been moves to address these issues and give National Parliament a bigger role, but a vote to Leave is a world away to a vote to reform. 

So with forecasts of thunderstorms and lightening hitting the ITV studios tonight, hopefully the debates will shed some light with some better clarity; although they may alternatively rain down further confusion. 

Overall, there’s a big choice ahead of us to make. Although we don’t know for certain what a vote for either side might mean, if we don’t make the most of our vote then we’re passing over the responsibility for something that will have a direct and potentially lasting impact on all of our futures.