Well, almost a fortnight on from the events of June 23rd there are many aspects of the referendum which I find curious. Many present great opportunities to improve the state of democracy in the UK but will they be taken in what is likely to be a relatively sort window?
1. David Cameron’s position was totally wrecked by having to return almost empty-handed from the series of discussions with the EU ahead of the vote – surely it would have been more sensible to have had the referendum, albeit with a few pointed questions on the ballot paper to evidence particularly strong views rather than a straight In or Out, so that public mandates could be used as leverage when negotiating a potential new deal? Failure of this negotiation to secure better terms could have triggered Article 50?
2. It was clear that many Ministers/MPs were actually in a camp which did not accord with their beliefs and their half-hearted or non-existent campaigning was based on preserving careers rather than out of a commitment to a view, e.g. Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. How did this happen and what lessons can be learnt?
3. It’s becoming very apparent given the disillusionment of the public with politicians generally, almost to the point of anarchy in places, that the alignment and composition of all the existing parties is out of tune with MPs’ views and makes them very difficult/impossible to manage effectively or indeed for them to manage the country.
The Tories will have to make it all work despite huge chasms in belief between right and left of the party; Labour are horribly split and at the present rate will struggle beyond 2020; Liberal Democrats have vanished completely; maybe UKIP should be re-dubbed the UK Integration Party; Scottish Nationalists may struggle if the EU doesn’t recognise Scotland as a country and would have to re-apply; Northern Irish parties perhaps have the most immediate issues; Plaid Cymru is hugely affected by the fate of Labour.
All very “samey” and unappealing. Why are politicians so divorced from the people they are supposed to represent?
Maybe we need some new, fresh political parties which accurately reflect their MPs’ and electorates’ views and aren’t beholden to “baggage”.
What a great time it would be for a fresh start?
4. Given their anti-democratic and delaying tactics on a range of key issues would it also be timely to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected Upper House?
5. Will the first years of an independent UK Government seek to attract more multi-national organisations to use the UK as a base by offering incentives whilst at the same time ensuring that those who are already here are taxed fairly and not allowed to dodge UK taxes?
6. When there were only TWO possible outcomes to the referendum how did so many “experts”, including clueless pollsters whose job it was, get the outcome totally wrong and be completely caught with their pants down?
Maybe some far-reaching lessons on risk management to be had for many – less talking and more thinking and observation perhaps. It also begs serious questions like – if they got the thinking wrong on something so seismic and failed to predict the result and its impacts, what else are they getting wrong and what are the potential impacts of that?
7. Most of the MPs in the Houses of Parliament who favoured a Remain result and some who went for Leave, are now totally out of step with their electorates and one has to ask whether their hearts are in it but what else would they do?
Can these MPs be relied on to deliver the best negotiating results for the future? Or should there be elections in these seats to achieve a more representative group of politicians? Perhaps even a snap General Election.
8. Could energy issues affecting the UK be governed as much by the exchange rate between £ sterling and the US $/€ as by the appetite for ongoing investment?
9. How quickly (how many years maybe?) can the UK become feasibly independent with the electorate’s required control of its borders?
10. Probably most importantly, how many other EU member states will follow the UK on a path to (relative) independence and how will this potentially new bloc perform on the world stage?
Lots of questions and few answers so far. What is certain is that more of the same isn’t an option and won’t be.
Mervyn Bowden is the MD of Intuitive Energy Solutions.