Brexit: Could a general election be the only solution left for business?
Politicians like nothing more than an election or a fudge. But business does not.
CEO’s require as much certainty as possible, so it was not surprising that most business leaders led by the CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn welcomed the draft Brexit deal while the majority of politicians were throwing their toys out of the pram, resigning or calling for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May — triggering the real possibility of a general election.
The draft deal delivers the so-called ‘soft’ Brexit the majority of business leaders wanted. One which sees the UK leave the EU, but for business still smells and feels like they are still in the 28 nation-bloc at least during the transition phase and with the possibility of staying longer in the customs union and single market if a long term trade deal cannot be agreed on time.
But UK politicians have poured cold water on the deal and thus created even greater uncertainty.
So could an election now be the only way to finally end the uncertainty for business in the long term?
My money has always been on another UK general election. Why? Because it is the perfect political fudge. Just like the backstop and the back stop to the backstop.
Despite the daily polling and mass demonstrations in favour of a People’s Vote, Theresa May was never going to be able to square the democratic circle on Brexit and please everyone in her party through a second referendum, so fudging it through an election was always the perfect way out.
She can also claim that she was only ever mandated to get the best Brexit deal she could from Brussels and despite what her Cabinet colleagues, the majority of the Conservative Party and the rest of Westminster thinks, she believes she has delivered the best deal possible. Therefore she has achieved what she set out to do, so it is now time for the people to judge whether she and her Party have delivered on their promises. Or she may decide in the same vain that she has done all she can and step aside.
But the UK may now just sleepwalk into an election anyway without Theresa May if Parliament votes down the deal, leaving her no option but to resign or more Cabinet members resign and more Tory letters from of no confidence trigger her resignation.
The only political sentiment that just might keep her in power and the Tory Party together is their collective fear of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
However, there are some within the Tory ranks that would be willing to sacrifice an election and a Labour government in the short term if it meant they could replace May as Tory opposition leader and eventually Prime Minister in the longer term. Their rationale being that a Corbyn government would be short lived given Labour policies on issues such as taxation and re-nationalisation.
Whatever happens next, the current uncertainty over Brexit and Tory party infighting is likely to continue and will damage the UK economy in the short term. However, if there is an election, business leaders might eventually get the level of certainty they crave. But that will require a more definitive outcome than the last election which is where you could say the current Brexit impasse emanated from.
by Darren Ennis