Conservative victory means Brexit will happen, but what sort of Brexit?
Three-and-a-half years after the UK’s referendum that saw it voting to leave the EU, a general election has handed the Conservatives the kind of victory they haven’t seen in decades and it means Brexit will happen.
But there’s still no clarity on what kind of Brexit there will be with the result potentially putting an eventual no-deal exit back on the table, but a softer Brexit also being a strong possibility.
With Boris Johnson having achieved his long-held aim of not just being Prime Minister, but now being one with a commanding majority, he has five years in which to reshape the UK economy, although the challenges he faces are huge. Despite the resounding victory, the high street continues to decline and expert forecasts say Brexit in any form will dent the economy.
What we know so far is that the bill to quit the EU next month will get through a now-tamed Parliament, but that leaves less than a year in which the British government can negotiate with the EU to get a final deal. And we don’t know that deal might be.
While Johnson has frequently said that he doesn’t see a no-deal exit as a problem, there’s also speculation that he could soften his stance. The size of his victory and the fact that he doesn’t have to think about another election for five years means the extreme Brexiteers in the Conservative Party could find that he feels he has a strong enough mandate to rebuff some of their ‘hard Brexit’ enthusiasm.
Six weeks ago, softening his stance would have brought opposition from those Brexiteers, but today it’s thought that Johnson will be able to push through any deal he can get out of the EU.
Few in the business community have commented yet, although while much of ‘UK plc’ opposes Brexit, they will welcome the clarity the election result brings.
CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn said “the real work starts now” and that business is looking for reassurance that a no-deal Brexit is off the table.
There’s some concern that the ‘Get Brexit Done’ Conservative slogan could lead to a rush for a deal and the Director General of the Institute of Directors, Jonathan Geldart, said the PM should “resist the urge”. He said business needs a proper adjustment period and to know the full details of any changes.
Meanwhile US President Donald Trump has promised a “massive” post-Brexit trade deal, although it’s unclear what might happen to any such deal if Trump himself fails to win re-election in less than a year’s time.
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