Friday, 20 April 2018

Will MPs use their power now?

The most intriguing and potentially significant aspect of the domestic politics of Brexit has always been the fact that the majority of MPs do not support it. Of course, that did not prevent them using the vote that the Miller case forced the government to hold to support the triggering of Article 50. But the justification for that (bogus in my view), that to do otherwise would have been illegitimate in the face of the Referendum result, does not apply when it comes to determining the manner in which Brexit is undertaken.

Many Brexiters, of course, claim otherwise, insisting that the vote to leave the EU was also a vote to leave the single market and any form of customs union. This is manifestly nonsense. They may point to this or that statement during the campaign that equated voting to leave with this manner of leaving, but the campaign overall was ambiguous and contradictory about what leaving meant.

This is easily demonstrated. If Brexit, by definition, meant what the Ultras say it does then there would not have been the seven month gap between the Referendum and the Lancaster House speech – a gap in which the various meanings of Brexit were heavily contested before that speech announced that Brexit meant hard Brexit. The only sense in which the Brexiters are right (and many remainers wrong) is that it is true that leaving the EU means leaving the Customs Union, because only EU members can belong to that. Britain cannot ‘stay in the Customs Union’. But Brexit does not preclude creating a customs union that replicates some, many or all of the features of the Customs Union.

In any case, since Article 50 was triggered there has been a General Election in which Theresa May called for a mandate for hard Brexit. She failed to get it, with implications both for the legitimacy of MPs now opposing this form of Brexit and for the parliamentary arithmetic of successfully doing so. The issue since then has therefore been whether MPs will make use of this situation, which requires both that the Labour Party and a sufficient number of Tory rebels do so. If those stars align – as they did with the passing of Amendment 7 to the EU Withdrawal Bill last December – then they can win.

As I wrote at the time, the main significance of that amendment lay not so much in the fact that it was passed but in the fact that it was not defeated. That is to say, had it been defeated that would effectively have represented the moment at which MPs had decided to have no substantive involvement in Brexit. It would also have signalled that there was no point at which the putative Tory rebels would act. And having done so may embolden them and others to rebel again – in a sense, having taken the flak once they have less to lose from future rebellions, whilst having won means that other potential rebels can believe there would be some point in sacrificing their careers.

We are now about to find out whether this is true, with votes on the specific issue of seeking an equivalent customs union with the EU after Brexit. On the one hand, the heavy defeat for the government in the House of Lords on the EU Withdrawal Bill gives the Commons a chance to do the same. On the other hand, there will be similar opportunities for the Commons to amend the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill and the Trade Bill and, next week, to vote in the debate on a customs union initiated by the Commons Liaison Committee. Government defeats in the Commons on these votes are now possible because in February Labour changed its position on a customs union. Such defeats would, politically if not legally, put a major hole in the government’s approach to Brexit with consequences which are unpredictable, but could force the collapse of the government and another General Election (there are, admittedly, many complexities in that not least because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act; still, we can say that there would be a political crisis).

Of course, it’s possible that the government might shift policy on a customs union in the face of such defeats (or, even, in anticipation of them) and seek to negotiate this with the EU (it is clearly not a given that the EU would agree, although most people believe that it is quite likely that they would*). That would require a major U-turn from Theresa May. It would also require the Tory Ultras both in Cabinet and on the backbenches to swallow very hard indeed, since an equivalent customs union would also, in practice, entail being bound by the EU’s Common Commercial Policy. That would mean no independent trade deals.

In any sensible political environment this would be of no consequence. There is little if any benefit in an independent trade policy. This is because such independence would require, first, re-negotiating all of the existing EU trade deals, with no guarantee they would be on as good terms and, even if they were, all that would have been achieved would be to restore the pre-Brexit status quo. As for new deals, the government’s own analysis shows that the benefits would be trivial, and far outweighed by the loss of EU trade. Despite all this, for the Ultras an independent trade policy has become a key symbol of Brexit. It has no rational basis, but then nor do blue passports. (No doubt some would say that it is rational if one puts a value on independence from rules set by others. If so, they miss the fact that making trade deals requires acting in accordance with rules set by the WTO).

Say, though, that the Ultras did accept this situation (calculating, perhaps, that once Brexit day has passed they might somehow, some time, claw back what had been conceded and/or that not doing so might precipitate a Labour government). It is not clear that anything very significant would have been achieved. A customs union would not, in itself, solve the Irish border riddle and it would mitigate only some of the economic damage, most notably to cross-border supply chains in goods manufacturing, of Brexit (it would do nothing to help services trade). To deal with both of these requires single market membership as well as (and, actually, more than) a customs union.

On the other hand, there is a real danger for remainers or even soft Brexiters if a customs union were created. Because it would not prevent the damage of Brexit, the Ultras would then be able to argue that this damage was caused not by Brexit but by not doing Brexit ‘properly’. They are going to make that claim anyway, no doubt, but will be able to do so the more vociferously (and, to some voters, plausibly) if they can point to having been prevented by ‘saboteurs’ from having an independent trade policy.

From this point of view, it might be said that the only way to completely discredit Brexit is to allow the Brexiters to have their head so that the full crash and burn effect of what they are advocating becomes undeniable. Against that, however, is the near inevitability that whatever happens they will always deny it and – more importantly – that all our lives and livelihoods will be strapped to the wreckage as it plummets to the ground. Which is a pretty unappealing prospect.

So perhaps there is a more optimistic scenario. A defeat for the government on a customs union might be a first step towards further defeats – on the single market, most obviously, on Brexit itself, conceivably. At some point on that road the Ultras would certainly rebel and, once again, we get all the unpredictability of governmental collapse, perhaps an election, perhaps another Referendum.

Or perhaps this will all turn out to be academic and the Tory rebels will not rebel after all. As I argued last March when the draft Withdrawal Agreement was published, the likelihood of agreement on a transition period seems to me to make such rebellion less likely. Writing in the Guardian this week Rafael Behr makes a similar point, seeing the possibility of the transition as having taken the time pressure of the government and opening up a scenario in which the Ultras “sleepwalk” us to Brexit. But as he concludes, and as what I have written here suggests, Britain’s fate lies firmly in the hands of parliamentarians. We will soon find out whether they, and most notably the Tory rebels, will use that power.

 
 

*Most notably because such a scenario would mean that, finally, the old Brexiter saws about the ‘German car industry’ and about the UK trade deficit with the EU would come into play, albeit not in the way Brexiters anticipated. A customs union would be helpful to EU-27 (and British) goods manufacturers. It would do nothing for services trade. The UK trade deficit with the EU-27 comprises a large services trade surplus offset by a massive goods trade deficit. For this and other reasons a customs union would be attractive to the EU-27 on economic grounds, and would not entail the politically unacceptable cherrypicking (of aspects of the single market) which Brexiters imagined would be over-ridden by EU-27 industrialists.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

How the Windrush scandal connects with Brexit

The Windrush scandal is disgraceful and disgusting in its own right. It is also connected in multiple ways to Brexit. First, in the most generic way, the “hostile environment” created by immigration policy grew out of the same political and cultural soil as the central, anti-immigration, plank of the Leave campaign. Both are expressions of the same hysteria of ‘uncontrolled’ borders, of health tourism, of jobs and public services supposedly taken by immigrants and of crimes supposedly committed by them. It is a hysteria whipped up by the tabloid press and the far right and, at the very least, pandered to by politicians of the two main parties. Without this political culture, neither the Windrush scandal nor – whatever the protestations now of ‘liberal leavers’ - the Brexit vote would have happened.

More specifically, what has happened to the Windrush victims, who – to spell it out - had a perfect legal right to reside permanently in Britain, has a direct relevance to the situation of EU nationals living in Britain will face post-Brexit when they, too, have that right. The, still provisional, guarantee of settled status (itself, by the way, a significant diminution of the rights of free movement, as discussed in a previous post) will require, precisely, that the British immigration authorities do not make the same kind of errors they have made in relation to Windrush.

And it is hardly as if these errors are an isolated event. They form part of a longstanding pattern of failure at the Home Office. Indeed, some EU nationals who have sought to clarify their status since the Brexit vote have already been caught in the vortex of incompetence and encultured, bureaucratised suspicion of the Home Office. For example, last August it emerged that the Home Office accidentally sent at least a hundred letters wrongly threatening EU nationals with deportation.

It’s important to understand that – as with the Windrush victims – when things like this happen it creates a life-wrecking situation. It isn’t just a matter of some onerous bureaucracy: people’s relationships, jobs and indeed their whole lives are in danger of being ripped up. Even if the situation is resolved, it leaves an ongoing trauma for the people affected, and this ripples out to those who might come to be affected.

With Brexit, EU nationals will become vulnerable not just in the immediate aftermath but for years to come. As Windrush shows, the dead hand of Home Office incompetence can reach out over the decades to knock on your door when you are old, or in need of healthcare. The already questionable proposition that EU citizens have nothing to fear from Brexit has taken a further, massive knock as a result of Windrush. Small wonder that the EU want independent oversight of the arrangements for their citizens’ rights. Windrush will cement the case for that, and probably for a longer period of ECJ oversight.

Moreover, at a less personal level, the scandal has pointed up very sharply issues around the fantasy of Global Britain and, especially, of the role that the Commonwealth might play in Britain’s post-Brexit trade relationships. As George Eaton, writing in the New Statesman, points out, the timing of the Windrush scandal breaking as the Commonwealth summit opens in London could hardly be less auspicious.

But in any case, the ‘Empire 2.0’ idea is misguided in every respect. Its first step is to exit the trade agreements that Britain as an EU member has or is currently negotiating with Commonwealth countries. These cover the vast majority of those countries, including those which are the major trading economies. Of particular note in the Windrush context are the agreements with Caribbean countries. So all those will have to be re-negotiated on a bi-lateral basis (the idea floated by some of a pan-Commonwealth trade agreement or even trade area is a fantasy within a fantasy: the Commonwealth is, avowedly, not a trade bloc or trade negotiating entity in its own right).

Beyond that, Empire 2.0 is apparently blind to the very particular political context of the Commonwealth. In brief, few if any of its members aspire to re-enact imperial preference in order to dig Britain out of its Brexit hole, and even if they did they have not stood still since 1973. They are part of their own regional trade agglomerations and neither economically nor culturally do they participate in some misty-eyed reverence for ‘the mother country’. And beyond that, whether Commonwealth countries or not, trade with places far away is never going to compensate for lost trade on the European doorstep.

And beyond even all that is the fact that any such trade deals will usually require preferential immigration treatment, as India has already spelt out. Indeed, it is British opposition to this which to a large extent explains why an EU-India trade deal has not yet been finalised.  Which brings us full circle to the prevailing anti-immigration political culture in Britain which makes such deals difficult (how to reconcile them with an immigration cap in the tens of thousands?) and also rather unattractive to the non-British party (who wants their nationals to be exposed to so hostile an atmosphere?). This is yet another version of the contradiction in Brexit whereby a vote which mobilised nativism is being used to endorse a policy of (a certain sort of) globalism.

The Windrush scandal and Brexit both disclose what happens when, as Ian Dunt describes it “a country completely loses its mind about immigration”. Even if Brexit does not go ahead, there is an urgent need for the country as a whole, and the political class in particular, to regain its senses. A part of that would be to think about the benefits of immigration in more than the narrow, transactional, economic terms which are about the only ones that even pro-immigration arguments get made. If Brexit does go ahead, then that task will arguably be even more urgent.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Business gets vocal about Brexit

One of the many remarkable consequences of the Brexit vote is the extent which it has fractured the traditional closeness of the Conservative Party and the business community. For the Ultras, in particular, it has become commonplace to treat bodies like the CBI and the IoD, and the City in toto, as being part of the assorted horde of saboteurs and enemies of the people stretching from universities to the judiciary.

This seems to have spread to the government more widely. Following the Referendum, there were repeated complaints that neither the Prime Minister nor DExEU would engage with businesses unless they express positivity about Brexit. Since few businesses see anything positive in Brexit this inevitably eroded business influence on the Brexit process. That is said to have changed somewhat since the General Election, admittedly, and the government’s acquiescence to a standstill transition period on EU terms is widely understood to reflect this.

But even with a transition period agreement in prospect, at least, the concerns of business are only very temporarily met. Hence there is now a growing public clamour to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit. A high profile example this week came from the CEO of Airbus, which directly employs 15,000 people in the UK and indirectly perhaps another 100,000. Moreover, many of these are highly skilled jobs. For Airbus, the main issues are the customs union and EASA membership (which entails a role for the ECJ). In passing, I once heard Jacob Rees-Mogg loftily opining that since (as is true) there are no tariffs on aerospace parts the industry had nothing to fear from Brexit. A small example of the way that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. At all events, lack of clear and realistic plans on the part of the government, Airbus warned, threatened long-term investment and time is running out fast to develop such plans.

Aerospace was one of multiple sectors covered in a CBI report entitled ‘Smooth Operations’ published this week, setting out the views of its members on regulatory issues post-Brexit. This report deserves high marks for recognizing some things which the Brexit business debate has often missed (although both have been discussed on this blog). First, that very often goods and services cannot be separated out, for example where companies provide repair and customer support services for their products, or where software forms part of the product. Second, that business sectors can’t be neatly and discretely packaged up: they interact, as does their regulation. This did, however, make it puzzling to then identify some sectors where divergence would be desired; a reprise of Theresa May’s ‘three baskets’ approach, with all its attendant problems which I’ve discussed elsewhere.

The overall thrust of the report was that British business should for the most part stay closely or completely aligned with EU regulations (thus, of the three baskets, two are virtually empty). The problem, though, is the clear implication of this is that Britain should remain in the single market. Since the CBI were not willing to argue that (they have done in the past, but presumably now see that political horse as having bolted) it becomes unclear what ‘alignment’ actually means. Presumably it means always adopting EU rules as they arise or change and some body, which can really only be the ECJ (or, perhaps, the EFTA Court), to enforce them. On these matters – which go to the heart of the entire debate about Brexit, soft Brexit and hard Brexit – the report only speaks in vague terms of the need to develop “mechanisms for influence and enforcement that benefit both sides”. It may have been politically astute of the CBI to avoid re-engaging with the debate on single market membership, but it leaves a big hole in their analysis and, more importantly, has the potential for adverse consequences for Britain, and for business, further down the line.

I will come back to what those consequences are, but before doing so it’s worth noting the response to the CBI report from Richard Tice, Vice Chair of Leave means Leave (which may perhaps be taken as representing the views of the Ultras more generally). He bemoaned it “as protecting the vested interests of the global multi-nationals at the expense of the approximately 90% of the British economy that does not export to the EU”. This short sentence embodies a series of misleading implications. Of course it is true that most of the British economy doesn’t export to the EU. Like all countries, most of the economy doesn’t export to anyone. But it makes no sense to have two sets of rules, one for the trading economy and one for the rest, which would be a recipe for red tape and would also permanently freeze the British economy into exactly the shape of its present pattern of trade activity.

However, the bigger implication is the populist one of Brexit as a battle with the “vested interests of global multi-nationals”. That is a nonsense given the kind of trade deals the Brexiters want to sign, anyway. It’s also a nonsense in terms of the way that all advanced economies – Britain’s, for better or worse, especially so – are globally embedded. Unless Britain wants to lose those firms, their jobs and their taxes then that needs to remain so. Brexit was never sold to the British public as a manifesto for economic autarky, and wouldn’t have been bought by them on that basis. And it’s nonsense because the CBI represents, and the issues it raises apply equally to, small and medium-sized businesses not just multi-nationals.

One of the most informative and saddening things I read this week was a blog post by Natalie Milton, the owner of small manufacturing company exporting mainly to the EU. In it, she details how leaving the single market and customs union will destroy the business she and her partner have built up over many years because of additional processes and costs. She explains precisely the nitty-gritty practicalities of Brexit for such a business (something few advocating Brexit seem to understand) and also how she and her family have built it from nothing so that losing it will devastate their whole lives. On her own account, these are ordinary people who don’t come from a privileged background but have created a successful business, earning foreign currency and providing jobs in their local community. It is crazy to think that destroying all this is a blow against “vested interests”. And, coming back to the point at the start of this post, it is striking how this person is almost the embodiment of what the Conservative Party used to claim to be the backbone, even the model, of what Britain was about. No longer, it seems.

How much influence business has on what happens with Brexit now remains to be seen. There are potentially heavy penalties for individual firms speaking out: as long ago as 2014 Brexit Ultra John Redwood threatened punishment for firms which spoke in favour of EU membership, and there are risks of adverse press coverage and lost government contracts. Still, as the government slowly come to appreciate that the fantasies of the Brexit Ultras cannot be put into practice, some degree of sanity may prevail. There is an irony in that, by the way, since what we see happening is the mirror image of that now rarely-heard piece of Brexiter scripture that the ‘German car industry’ would pressure the EU into delivering a cake and eat it Brexit deal.

It may be such business pressure that is leading to rumours that Theresa May will, after all, seek a form of customs union with the EU (something both the CBI and IoD have lobbied for and which recently became Labour Party policy). It may be that something like what the CBI are setting out in ‘Smooth Operations’ comes to pass. And that could, indeed, mitigate a lot of the economic damage of Brexit. However, even if so, there is a real danger ahead if the efforts of the business lobby are successful. The danger is of drifting into a kind of de facto soft Brexit when it has never been clearly articulated or framed as such, and doesn’t sit within a defined framework such as EFTA. I think there are many people in business and beyond who expect something like this drift or fudge to occur, and in a way it would be a rather British, make do and mend, kind of Brexit if it did.

But if that happens it will always be liable to future attack and unstitching by the Brexit Ultras, or for that matter by others. It won’t represent a clear, strategic decision by the UK but will rather be a patchwork of compromises and ad hoc solutions cobbled together in such a way as to slip it past not just the Ultras but everyone else, including the EU and including the British public. That won’t be particularly good for businesses – it means that investment in Britain will always have an additional risk factor – and it certainly won’t be good for Britain as whole. It will mean that far from Britain’s relationship with the EU being settled for a generation, that relationship will continue to be the running sore it has been for the last three decades with the added inflammation, of course, that Brexit has rubbed into that sore.  

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A year into Article 50, unreality permeates Brexit

A year ago I wrote about the bleak and bitter day for our country when the Article 50 process was initiated. A year on, most of what I wrote in that post still holds true but of course there have also been some momentous developments including the bizarre Brexit election that didn’t discuss Brexit and its outcome, the phase 1 agreement and, most recently, the draft transition agreement. Now, half-way through the Article 50 period, we might expect the story to be one of Brexit becoming ever more real. Instead, a strange air of unreality predominates.

Brexiters themselves seem to have all but given up on claiming that there is any great value in or reason for doing it. On the odd occasions that they attempt it, as with Boris Johnson’s ‘road to Brexit’ speech, it quickly descends into bathos. More often, the message now is just that it won’t be the awful disaster that critics claim. That in itself seems to be overly optimistic but, even so, hardly inspiring. Of course, they continue to claim that this is because Brexit has been ‘watered down’ by conniving remainers but that is nonsense. The government are enacting precisely the hard Brexit that the Ultras called for, and are finding out just how impractical it is. As I wrote when it was sent, the Article 50 letter marked “the moment from which Brexiters are responsible for what happens to this country. There can be no equivocation about this. Brexiters campaigned for years to leave the EU, they won the referendum and they now control the process of leaving”.

As for Theresa May, she, like most politicians of both main parties, appears to be of the view that Brexit is an outright mistake and yet, somehow, must be done anyway. The semi-respectable reason for that was respecting the result of the Referendum – but only semi-respectable since it was an advisory referendum, explicitly not requiring a super-majority because of that status, and since it certainly didn’t mandate Brexit in the form it is taking. In any case, that semi-respectability is now entirely threadbare. It may never be possible to prove exactly what difference it made, or exactly what happened, but the revelations about the conduct of the Leave campaign now mean that a miasma of illegitimacy hangs over the very marginal victory they secured.

All of that might not have much traction if the Brexit government had developed an even halfway workable approach to their central policy. They have not, and, again, it is false to attribute this to remainer opposition (£). On the contrary, that opposition continues to flourish in part because it is transparently obvious that no workable policy is in place. If there were, many would remain unreconciled to Brexit, of course, but the edge of the opposition would have been blunted, if not discredited.

That no such policy exists is because the government are seeking to operationalise the pretence, or fantasy, or lie, of the Leave campaign that something approximating to EU membership can be obtained but without being a member of the EU or even of the EEA. From that fantasy flow all of the well-rehearsed problems of the Irish border and the perhaps less well-rehearsed problems of participating in EU programmes and agencies (see, for example, this analysis of the European Space Agency by Sophia Besch of CER). It is a fantasy which, as the ever-acute Jonathan Lis of Open Britain explains, will inevitably be exposed in the phase 2 talks.

Until then, the domestic debates about Brexit continue to go round and round in circles, with the only progress occurring when the government accepts the precepts laid down by the EU, as has happened with the phase 1 agreement and, hence, the draft withdrawal agreement and ‘transition’ arrangements. That isn’t, at least not primarily, because of the EU’s stronger bargaining position, it is because if the UK doesn’t itself put forward a workable policy then, by default, what happens is that the EU’s policy becomes the only game in town.

Whilst this is most obviously a failure of the government – since they are, indeed, the government – it is equally true of the Labour opposition. They had the possibility of taking a perfectly respectable and coherent position of arguing for soft Brexit. That would have made intellectual and political sense, and would have enabled any half-way competent opposition to eviscerate a government so adrift from practicalities, so internally riven, and in such a precarious parliamentary position. Instead, Labour moved slowly and belatedly to a position on a customs union that, in itself, does not resolve the Irish border issue nor anything much else; and are hamstrung not simply by having a leader who is probably by conviction in favour of Brexit but one who seems uninterested in and ignorant about it. How else to explain the fact that he rarely raises this defining issue of the day at PMQs and that he repeatedly takes the patently untrue line that single market membership is precluded by leaving the EU?

What hangs above all of this is the inexorable passage of time. It is increasingly obvious that the decision to trigger Article 50 at the time she did was perhaps the worst miscalculation of any British Prime Minister in modern times (far worse in its long-term effects than Suez; the only other contender for the title would be Cameron’s various missteps that led to the Referendum and its result). It was a purely symbolic gesture to the Brexit Ultras in her party and, in conjunction with the extraordinary follow-up of calling an election with the result it had and the thoughtless red lines she established, has created an effectively impossible policy. Every day that goes by makes it clearer – as, in relation to customs arrangements, May herself admitted the other day – that even with the transition period there is insufficient time to do all that needs to be done to avoid chaos.

The one rational solution to this, apart from abandoning Brexit altogether which would almost certainly require another referendum, would be to apply to the EU to extend the Article 50 period but this is precluded by, yet again, the Ultras in her own party, even assuming that the EU-27 would unanimously, as would be required, agree to it. The lesson that May still has not learned is that whatever she does the Ultras will accuse her of betrayal, so she might as well take that hit and at least commit to something workable – meaning not simply an A50 extension but, in the process a belated embrace of the EEA.

So we have a policy that at least half the country, and most parliamentarians, think is a mistake or worse being prosecuted with a level of ineptitude without parallel in modern British political history. It is regarded with incredulity by our friends and allies, and with glee by our enemies. Its main and most vociferous advocates scarcely bother to defend it anymore, and it is based upon a narrow majority that is increasingly looking to have been secured by a deeply flawed process. In the meantime, probably irreparable damage is being done to the economy, to our geo-political standing, to the civility of our political discourse and, the greatest human cost, to the lives of the millions of EU-27 nationals living in Britain and British nationals in the EU-27. Having predicated their lives, livelihoods and relationships, entirely reasonably, on freedom of movement and all that goes with it they remain in an agonizing limbo.

As to what will happen in the next year, who would care to predict? In a previous post I suggested that the agreement of a transition period makes it more likely that we drift to Brexit with no political or economic crisis until it becomes a fait accompli and we have left, albeit on unknown terms. I am not so sure of that since the new allegations about the Vote Leave campaign. There is probably not quite enough, yet, to decisively shift events but it won’t take many more revelations to do so. What happens then is difficult to anticipate, but the momentum to Brexit is egg-shell thin and the slightest crack could be enough to embolden our still cowed parliamentarians and to transform public opinion.

Ironically, the most encouraging event as this first year of Article 50 ends was a speech by Jacob Rees-Mogg (these are not words I ever expected to write), in which he expressed his outrage at the possibility that Brexit might not happen. That Rees-Mogg is outraged is not of any great note (the ‘man bites dog’ story would be if he were ever to be anything else). What is remarkable is that, half-way through the Brexit process, he recognizes that it may yet be abandoned. His fears are, for those of us who are opposed to Brexit, our hopes. But he is right to say that if they are realised there will be an almighty political car crash, and if it happens the outcome won’t be a return to the day before the Referendum or before the Article 50 letter. Whatever happens now none of us, whether leaver or remainer, is going to ‘get our country back’.