Outside the EU, the UK will be politically sterile, internationally diminished, domestically polarised and economic compromised.
Next year, the UK is going to have a new but temporary transition relationship with the EU. With this, the UK will remain in all aspects of EU membership but in name only, voluntarily ending participation in the EU’s decision making and institutions. The UK is going to be an international rule taker. In this new era of political sterility, the UK will continue to implement regulations and directives agreed by the EU, but with no vote, voice or veto.
The UK government does not have sufficient time, technology or resources to implement it’s preferred post-EU relationships in the self imposed timescales available. It’s worth recalling the current timescales began when the UK prime minister, Theresa May, chose to invoke Article 50, a decision she would have preferred to take unilaterally, had it not been for a legal intervention requiring a parliamentary vote. These new temporary transition arrangements are likely to be rewritten as a permanent UK association agreement.
In return, the UK will be accorded third country status, but without any of the benefits. This newly internationally diminished position will leave the UK unable to pursue the usual trading independence or regulatory autonomy – a third country taking orders from the EU: the worst of both global trading options.
Elsewhere, the outlook is less rosy. The government will struggle to implement post-EU domestic agendas. Domestic polarity, social divisions and a sense of Brexit disappointment will leave ministers struggling to build the necessary parliamentary or voter coalitions needed to implement policy. Spending cuts or reduced public service provision may alienate voters who expected better times outside the EU, whilst tax rises will irritate those who voted to remain in the EU. Government strategies and poor leadership will stymie national planning.
Post EU economic prospects are – at best – unexciting. In January 2018, the UK government commissioned a cross departmental briefing on economic life outside the EU. The government never intended for the briefing to be made public. But it was leaked and later released following a parliamentary vote. The government briefing says that all Brexit options will reduce UK growth. Some Brexit options will reduce prosperity by up to 16% in some UK regions.
Life outside the EU is likely to fall short of expectations offered in the 2016 referendum campaign.