A 'no deal' outcome to Brexit may be disastrous for the UK but it may be necessary to put its current divisions to bed.
By Darren McCaffrey
'No deal' might be a complete disaster, so bad that even its most vocal supporters are forced to recognise their mistake; bowed, forced to rebuild some relations with Europe.Euronews' political editor
Amidst the political turbulence at Westminster, Prime Minister Theresa May has steadfastly stuck to the line that the UK is leaving the European Union on 29 March.
And indeed, despite that political turbulence, she is right. Legally - unless something changes, unless Parliament can agree on a different course - the UK is leaving with or without a deal. To hardcore Brexiteers, this latter has become the goal; the ultimate clean Brexit, the only solution to unshackle the UK from the clutches of the EU.
But for most MPs, not only should it be avoided but crashing out is unthinkable. Even previous Brexit leaders like Michael Gove have been won over by the sheer scale and scope of damage to Britain’s economy, so that the mantra “no deal is better than a bad deal” is rarely now heard.
And the predictions are dire; recession, another collapse in the pound, years of sluggish growth, companies leaving, chaos at the ports, food shortages (including apparently Mars bars) and even water taps being turned off.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has gone as far as to say he can’t promise people won’t die as a consequence. Scary stuff, right? What politician could ever allow that to happen?
Most MPs have said they simply won’t. Others, of course, argue that they are merely predictions and predictions have been very wrong before. Worse, these are scare stories, or "Project Fear" as such warnings from Europhiles became known during the referendum campaign.
Yes, there will be an initial shock, but in medium to long-term, Great Britain will - as it has before - overcome. I accept it may be impossible (well, it is actually impossible) to disregard the economy when it comes arguing about the merits of ‘no deal’. But let’s try – because there is another side to this debate that has not been properly explored.
The UK is at war with itself; utterly divided, paralysed by the bitterness of June 2016, each side becoming more entrenched in an increasingly nasty national “debate”. And something needs to give. The situation needs to change.
Essentially, after so many bitter battles, one side needs to win the war.
If not, what next? More of the same? For years and years, maybe the entire next decade, the UK is consumed with endless debate, indecision, cliff edge moments, parliamentary gridlock?
Focused on every detail of one issue, amid point-scoring and squabbling, few are talking about the big global challenges all countries should be confronting; from climate change to AI.
Isn’t ‘no deal’ the only way to move on?
May’s deal (in fact, any deal) will still mean years and years of trade negotiations, of the backstop, and more of the past two years. Would a second referendum not simply present another close result either way, with the same old arguments? And would revoking Article 50 risk not just undermining democracy but creating a sense of betrayal it may take generations to shake?
I accept ‘no deal’ would inevitably be a testing time, not least of all for the Union itself. But maybe after a referendum in which many voted against their economic self-interest, one side needs to be vindicated for the good of the country.
'No deal' might be a complete disaster, so bad that even its most vocal supporters are forced to recognise their mistake; bowed, forced to rebuild some relations with Europe.
But one which a much more united nation recognized as necessary.
Or maybe after the initial shock, things settle down, the negative predictions aren’t all right and, having left, again a consensus forms around the need to make a success of the situation.
I don’t have the right answer. I can’t predict the future (yes, it’s why this is all so difficult) but what I do know is something significant is needed to change the national mood. Something needs to give. Something needs to change.
Darren McCaffrey is Euronews' political editor
Views expressed in this piece are solely those of the authors and do not represent those of Euronews as a whole.