The hours and days to come will be a ride.
We don’t yet know if Mrs May will cling on, if the Government will survive or if we are headed for another election. We will certainly hear much more from the politicians and commentators who claim to know which Brexit we voted for.
But whatever happens the underlying reality is that this may represent the Brexit we chose. Perhaps none of us individually. But collectively this is about the sum of it. If we could plot a complex, 3-D graph of Brexit viewpoints, this would mark the centrepoint.
It’s a 52%, neither one thing nor the other sort of Brexit and so it’s unsurprising that it’s a prospect which leaves everyone underwhelmed. Leave or Remain, we had something different in mind. Something more definitive, more compelling.
For the Leavers, it would be a 52% sort of win, but a win nonetheless. It delivers the one outcome for which the people did knowingly vote: to leave the European Union. Which is why the Brexiteers should grab it.
The signs are that they will not. Dominic Raab’s resignation is another sign that those with the greatest influence seem least inclined to settle for 52%. Theresa May remains where she has been since the beginning – between a rock and a hard place. She is, ultimately, a 48% leader. Whisper it quietly but Jeremy Corbyn may plot closer to the centrepoint.
As has been the case since 23 June 2016, nobody knows for sure what will happen next. Businesses need to continue to plan for all scenarios.
But after all the sound and fury the 52% outcome still seems most likely. A Brexit process which sees the UK leave the European Union but where the process of detachment and divergence is incremental and long, most likely decades. Where, for business, the challenges and opportunities are sector and circumstance-specific and firmly in the detail, these 585 pages of it for starters.
It feels like that will be more or less the path unless or until it changes as the result of emerging, inspirational leadership (usually good) or game-changing external factors (usually bad).
Could the 48% become the 52%? Of course – demographic change may already be taking us in that direction. But even if the referendum question was re-posed, enacting a Remain outcome could prove similar in practice to the process before us, just less legally complex.
The UK would remain a member of the EU but would seek a level of divergence and exception which might not ultimately look so different to the vision in the drafts published yesterday.
We await the next twists and turns. But unless we are piloted to a different destination or blown off course, the heading seems more or less known. Whether or not we understood it at the time, that was set the moment the referendum was called.
For more content like this, sign up to our newsletter and receive a regular roundup of news, insights and advice from Social’s team of communications experts