Irrespective of whether you voted to leave or remain in the 2016 referendum, the one thing that I think everyone can agree on is that the current Brexit situation is embarrassing for the whole country and that the process needs to come to a swift conclusion one way or another.
With Boris Johnson installed as the Prime Minister for a couple of weeks and with MPs on leave for their summer vacation I thought that it was an interesting time to take stock of the current Brexit situation and to hypothesize how events may play out over the coming weeks and months.
No Deal with Europe
The European Union have stated multiple times that they are not open to re-negotiating the withdrawal agreement or agreeing to any of Boris Johnson's demands including the removal the backstop on the Irish boarder. Even if the new Prime Minister was able to re-negotiate a deal with the European Union it is highly unlikely that he would be able to get parliament to agree to it, as Theresa May discovered to her cost.
No Deal Brexit Rejected
With a deal off the table the alternative is to leave the European Union without a deal on the 31st October 2019. However, Parliament have blocked moves to leave without a deal on several occasions previously, so this is also unlikely to be a successful option.
The Prime Minister could take the exceptional step of proroguing Parliament, to put it simply closing Parliament to prevent PMs from blocking a no deal exit. However, this would be be a extraordinary move in UK politics. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions.
Vote of No Confidence
If the UK is unable to leave the European Union with or without a deal on the 31st October 2019 the Prime Minister will need to ask the Europe Union for another extension to Article 50. With the Conservative government led by Boris Johnson unable to deliver on the commitment to take the UK out of the European Union, I expect that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party will call a vote of no confidence in the government in early November.
Calling a General Election
If the Conservative government loses the vote of no confidence, which would be highly probably at that point, the outcome is likely to be the calling of a General Election. Given the time required to prepare for a General Election the earliest this could take place would be mid-December 2019. With a possibility that the General Election could slip to January 2020 after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
New Coalition Government
Given the general dissatisfaction with how the Conservatives and Labour parties have handed the Brexit negotiations I expect that there will be a protest vote and both parties will lose a significant number of seats to the Liberal Democrats. I anticipate the outcome being that no single partly will have enough seats to form a government. Therefore, there will need to be a coalition between two of the three major political parties.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats coalition in 2010 did not go well, so I expect that neither party would be keen to repeat that arrangement. A Conservative and Labour coalition is highly unlikely. Therefore, the most probable outcome is a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition government with Jeremy Corbyn as the prime minister.
Calling a Second Referendum
Jeremy Corbyn stated in July 2019 that Labour would campaign to remain in a second Brexit referendum. Similarly, the Liberal Democrat believe that Britain is better off as a member of the European Union, and as a consequence they have been campaigning to stop Brexit for some time.
Therefore, given the inability to agree an acceptable exit deal with the European Union and Parliaments refusal to allow a no deal Brexit, I predict that the new coalition government will call a second referendum on leaving the European Union in an attempt to break the current impasse in the first quarter of 2020.
Remain win the Second Referendum
Anyone who voted to remain in the first referendum is unlikely to have changed their views over the last three years. However, there are some people who voted to leave the first as a protest, and who stated the day after the referendum that they would go back and change their vote if they could. Similarly, some people who voted to leave did so based on false information and unrealistic expectations of the outcome. Now having a clearer view of what Brexit actually means it is possible that some people may switch their vote from leave to remain.
What about those who people who were eligible to vote in the 2016 referendum but decided not to? The people who did not vote in the first referendum were probably either neutral, or were pro-remain but thought that the leave vote had no chance of winning so did not bother to vote. Therefore, any non-voters from the 2016 referendum who participate in a second referendum are more likely to vote to remain that to leave.
Generally younger people were more in favor of remaining in the EU and older people more in favor of leaving. In the time since the first referendum the demographic profile of eligible voters has shifted subtlety, with more young people becoming eligible to vote and some older people having died.
Therefore, I predict a small majority for remain over leave if a second referendum is called. However, I expect that the margin of the victory will be larger than the 51.9% vs 48.1% result from the 2016 referendum.
Revoking Article 50
With a majority voting in favor of remaining in the European Union in the second referendum I would expect that Jeremy Corbyn would quickly move to revoke Article 50, thus cancelling Brexit. This would then allow the UK government and the European Union to focus on other topics that have take a backseat over the last 3 years while Brexit has dominated proceedings.
At this time it is impossible to predict how the current Brexit situation will be resolved. However, I thought that it was interesting to explore one potential scenario that could come to pass. One thing that is certain is that Brexit will continue to dominate European politics for at least a couple more months and potentially into 2020.