2019: sunlit lowlands



Reasons to be cheerful – Portstewart Strand

Christmas has been a welcome break from my addiction to Brexit podcasts. Perhaps for that reason I’m seeing things less feverishly than a few weeks ago. No new answers to it all have emerged of course – we’re in a genuine pickle in this country – but it’s not time to give up on us just yet. Why my optimism?

  • May’s deal will be voted down
  • Parliament desperately wants to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, when push comes to shove, will force the government to comply – either by recommending a renegotiation with an alternative approach like Norway Plus, by requiring a new referendum on the way forward and/or by just delaying the leave date until we’re in a position to do so without a cliff edge.

As it stands today, we don’t know those things for sure, because they have not happened yet. And there are viable scenarios in which May could send us careening over the precipice. But they are, imho, pretty unlikely ones. Once we are past the “meaningful vote” on 15th January and what will surely be a feverish few weeks of realignment as MPs vote on alternative ways forward, things could very look different.

Mike Reid runaround
G-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-go … Today’s MPs as 80s children took part in intensive training for the parliamentary aftermath of the meaningful vote, under the watchful tutelage of Mike Reid. In the tv show ‘Runaround’, the kids were given 5 seconds to change their minds after getting a p***-easy question wrong the first time. Here, we see Reid imprisoning future members of the European Research Group who had tested his patience with daft non-answers.

The EU for now can’t say anything other than support the May deal, but once it’s dead in parliament, the interesting stuff happens. They have signalled in other ways they will be open to an alternative UK approach, because they badly want to avoid a no deal too.

I am making myself a hostage to fortune here, but hey, I can just delete this post and pretend I didn’t make these wrong predictions. No screenshots please …

So my guess is we’ll avoid the grim outcomes that seem possible now and business will continue after March more or less as usual – for a while at least.

If I really stick my neck out, while I want a referendum on the way forward, I can see a general election scenario later in 2019 – because the government may well reckon its best chance of getting its way on Brexit is not through the current parliament but by going to voters and using the negative Corbyn factor (that is, voters wanting to avoid the Labour leader becoming PM, even if they don’t back the Tories) to get a decent Tory vote and a possible majority. It’s a big gamble, but might they just get into such a corner it starts to look appealing to them?

Whatever happens, Shore will be kicking around talking to the British public about this, that and the other – usually the other – as I’ve done for the last nine years as an independent. Still going strong despite launching in inauspicious post-crash conditions in 2010 and I’m bloody well going to beat what Brexit throws at me too. We need a bit of Blitz spirit perhaps, but why oh why did we impose this Blitz on ourselves?


Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

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