Out. That's was unexpected. Did the bookies pull off a great coup for their own bank balances? The main question, however, is: what do we do now? While Juncker and co are demanding we get on with it ASAP, there's not much that can be done until we actually pull the Article 50 trigger.
There were many reasons and causes of why people decided to vote Leave. Real or perceived, immigration and its effects was a core issue. It can't be ignored like walking past a cinema to avoid yet another bad film reboot.
For the sake of this piece, I'm going to assume we'll follow through with Brexit. With Article 50 in our hands, it's up to us to try and get the best deal possible for Brexit. Perhaps, and it is a big perhaps, we could get a package that the 48% who voted Remain would also like too.
With those two key aspects, migration and a sizeable Remain vote, to our agenda, what about trying to get the EU to agree to access to the single market without absolute free movement of people? That might be heresy to Brussels, but it's an option that should be voiced and certainly explored.
I get why Brussels wouldn't like it. Britain cherry-picking what it does and doesn't want could encourage other members, and separatist movements within them, to push for the same thing. If other members start chopping up the current EU order, Brussels might find itself in a bigger Eton mess than Boris has already put them in.
But for us, Leave can get what it wants: controlled migration in some way shape or form. Whether that's an Australian-style points system or something else, perhaps a deal can be done. Although some people didn't like them, experts should be asked to work out the best system that works in our interest. A lot of businesses would be happy with this as long as it's thought through. Retaining access to the single market would be a boon to overcoming the uncertainty we're sailing into. This will, of course, mean that we'll have to contribute to the EU budget. But then you can't be a member and expect a free ride. The referendum was a binary choice but the outcome doesn't have to be.
In fact, this new associate status, with the economic benefits but little of the political integration, could be quite good for us in the long run. It would probably appeal to other Eurosceptics like the Danes and the Finns. Scotland might be happy to remain in the UK as well. Ireland certainly doesn't want to see a return to a land border with the UK. We don't want the old ghosts of conflicts past coming back for their pound of flesh. It may well be the EU that most people outside of Brussels actually want.
What we don't want is a country that's as bitter with one another as a family is about who took the last Malteaser from the Celebrations box and left the rest with only Bounty bars. Infighting and the infectious sludge of uncertainty will harm us all, young or old. We can't forget our 7% current account deficit. We shouldn't forget that interest rates are so low around the world. Climate change hasn't gone away either. We're strapping on Brexit skates while the world economy is still made of thin ice.
With a 52:48 vote, millions of Remainers need to have their voice heard as well. This isn't a civil war, but unheeded division will breed something altogether worse for the UK, for Europe, and for the world. Brexit needs to be whipped together in everyone's interest.
Yes, the EU's officials might refuse to negotiate, but that remains to be seen. It's the member states who are in charge within the EU. We're still a member of the EU until we choose to walk away. It's time to hustle. Who dares, wins.
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