Taking stock, one year after Brexit

 

The topic of Brexit is both feared and relished by policy wonks and the public alike. One year down the line from the referendum, the RSA gathered a panel under the title of “Brexit: One Year On” to take stock of the current climate and project into a possible future. At Tekiu, we’ve been following Brexit closely, particularly the potential effects on the Life Sciences, Digital Economy and Research and Innovation in general. We recently took a UK bioindustry delegation to Switzerland to learn from an example of a healthy Life Sciences sector outside of the EU, helping to inform a post-Brexit world.

What did we learn?

  • There are still plenty of unknown variables on Brexit which may in turn have a large effect on public opinion: a) How long will Theresa May remain prime minister? b) How will MPs behave? c) How will the economy hold up?
  • The youth vote and turnout has garnered much attention in the past weeks. Indeed, age was shown to be a good predictor of political affiliation but participation rates were still higher from the older age categories – 84% of the 70+ demographic cast their votes, compared to ~60% of those under 30.
  • There is a danger of conflating the decision to support Labour in GE2017 with the Remain side; YouGov have provided a useful comparison of the Referendum results with the choices in GE2017. The majority of Labour voters outside of London decided for Brexit, something that the Labour manifesto in GE2017 promised to deliver. Overall ~85% of the voting electorate decided for parties that would deliver Brexit.
  • Jonathan Isaby, editor of @Brexit Central pointed out that there is actually very little evidence of “buyer’s remorse” on the issue of Brexit: most individuals on both sides have not changed their mind one year down the line, something that was immediately confirmed by a quick poll of audience members. But even firm Remainers are getting impatient with lack of clarity over Brexit.
  • Both Gina Miller and Jonathan Isaby ridiculed the adjectives that are often attached to Brexit. It won’t be hard or soft, it will be “the deal we are offered by the EU”.
  • Professor Anand Menon suggested that Brexit brought a new priority to the forefront of politics: social equality. If the country works towards a more fair and distributed economy as a result, then perhaps the whole process could be considered as worthwhile in the long run.
  • All panelists agreed that there is undeniably more interest in politics across the entire population as a result of the referendum and ensuing political changes. This wider recognition of civic responsibility may be a positive sign for the future of the UK, even as we move closer towards the unknown.

A recording of the event is available here: https://www.thersa.org/events/2017/06/brexit-one-year-on