BOB = Bored of Brexit
As“Brexit fatigue”takes hold of us, let’s look back over the terminology relating to it. While “soft Brexit” means the UK staying in the single market according to the “Norway model”, “hard Brexit” means exiting the EU with no agreement in place but then signing a trade deal, known as the “Canada model”. However, it’s only thanks to the infamous “Brexit means Brexit” trope doled out by Theresa May since July 2016 that the country, its citizens, politicians and analysts have begun to seriously consider what Brexit might actually mean.
Since then, several different versions of Brexit have blossomed, including “no deal Brexit”, which has become very popular and would see the UK slam the door on the EU and strike a series of trade deals on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms. As a result, “soft Brexit” quickly lost ground to “no deal Brexit”. Consequently, “no deal” has become the warcry of the “hard Brexiteers”, with the initial “hard Brexit” then becoming the “soft Brexit”, and the original “soft Brexit” morphing into…no Brexit at all! In short, it’s the very distinction between “hard” and “soft” Brexit, and the intense political and media frenzy surrounding these two versions of Brexit, that will slowly but surely grant legitimacy to the “no deal Brexit” that has emerged thanks towidespread apathy.
It would, however, be interesting to know what the intentions were of those who, on 23 June 2016, voted for a Brexit that at the time not clearly defined, because there’s good reason to believe that the overwhelming majority of them had imagined a “soft Brexit”, Norway-style. The UK’s no-frills unilateral departure from the single market was in fact most likely not the will of most of the 51.89% who have shaken up the country’s order. “No deal” is therefore lightyears away from what the 2016 referendum result intended because even the staunchest partisans of Brexit were settled on the idea that there would not only be a “deal” with the EU, but that this would be sorted quickly and easily, and would be a good deal for the country! A “piece of cake”, all in all. The fifth biggest economy in the world, a vital trading partner to Germany and its car manufacturers, would only have to bowever so slightly to negotiate a treaty that Europe would offer up on a silver platter, after only a few weeks. It’s simple: the overwhelming majority of the 51.89% were convinced that a deal would be reached before Article 50 was even triggered!
As no one in their worst nightmares had imagined the UK leaving the EU without a deal, “no deal Brexit” has no popular support. In fact, knowingly or not, for the “Leave” voters of 2016, Brexit was – by definition – “soft”.