Brexit: where do we stand?

Despite doomsday-predicting doubters, detractors and dissenters on both sides of the channel – and pond – Mrs May seems to have hashed out some semblance of a practical Withdrawal Agreement.

So far, the ‘deal’ has been dragged from pillar-to-post, with sceptics proclaiming it pleases no-one. Designed in part to put an end to the instability that has plagued the UK and reconcile a divided nation, and in part to ensure that ‘no deal’ does not become reality – despite repeated claims that no deal is better than a bad deal – it’s clearly a tough gig.

The European Reform Group (ERG) – a cabal of hard-line Brexiteers’ – reacted with predicted pantomime horror. Accusing Theresa May, Downing Street, the Civil Service and just about anyone else of a conspiracy against the Leave vote – claiming amongst other things a rejection of the will of the people. Rees-Mogg, famed MP for the Victorian age, prematurely declared the receipt of the magic 48 letters of no confidence, declaring the end of May’s premiership and the beginning of a leadership race. Who knows what coming days – or even hours may bring? But, as of right now, these letters have not materialised, currently leaving the over-confident members of the ERG red-faced.

Even so, suggestions that pressure on May has subsided were short-lived. The cantankerous ranks of DUP MPs re-engaged in parliamentary warfare, by perhaps permanently withdrawing from the confidence and supply agreement which had provided the Conservatives with a majority in Parliamentary arithmetic and an (albeit illusory) level of political stability.

It is this withdrawal that may yet prove to be the critical blow to the Withdrawal Agreement, should it ever reach Parliament.

Surprisingly, so far the news for Mrs May is not all bad. The negotiation has, on-the-whole, been well received by business. Her performance at the CBI was deemed at-worst acceptable and at-best good. Contrast this with Corbyn’s fantasy of a Brexit renegotiated with essentially all the current benefits of membership and none of the obligations and the practical ‘get on with it’ option is clear.

This has been further underpinned by a cautious backing from financial services. Most critical to financial institutions – the transition period – is likely to run in 2021, guaranteed only by the ratification of a Withdrawal Agreement. This and the Withdrawal Agreement itself will not lead to a mass reverse of Brexit programs, but will instead provide the stability required to deliver successful, measured change.

Our advice, as always – is to use this understanding to inform and deliver more accurate, more effective change.  But as ever, it’s not just wise but essential to remain cautious of the political tides turning.The Withdrawal Agreement, after all, is not a done deal.

Note: This opinion piece was first published by Catalyst prior to the Sionic merger