Another Brexit Referendum? Yet Another Scenario For Procurement to Consider!

We’ve stayed off the politics of Brexit here, in part because I was lucky enough personally to forget to register for a postal vote, hence I avoided falling out with friends on either side of the post-referendum debate.

But as we seem to approach a deal that will be presented to the UK parliament, one does wonder what on earth the UK is getting out of this, given what seems likely to be in that agreement. We seem to be slipping into a worst of both worlds scenario – we will be a “rule-taker” from Brussels, without the freedom that the Brexiteers promised us, but without many of the benefits of EU membership.

Is this an indictment of the negotiation abilities of our politicians and advisers? Or was it inevitable that the EU would concede little, given the need for the organisation to demonstrate to other potential leavers that the UK had made a very bad decision?  The BATNA for the EU, in other words, if an agreement were not reached, would be a “hard exit” for Britain that might cost the EU members something themselves but would act as a warning to others. So not a bad BATNA really, and that’s why their negotiators have been able to take a hard line.

The other issue that worries me is that the likely deal is not going to make the divisions in UK society go away. No-one is going to be happy with the result if it is as expected. Brexiteers will argue that they have been betrayed by our leaders and will continue pushing for more distance from the EU. Remainers will be generally miserable and will no doubt keep pointing out that we’re worse off than before and that the £350 million a week for the NHS disappeared, somehow.

Even another referendum won’t sort out this divide, but I am beginning to wonder whether it is the only way forward, with the likelihood of this increasing since Jo Johnson’s resignation last week.  Give the people a choice, now that we have real options on the table, not just high-level conceptual options. There is no guarantee of course that the result won’t be the same – and there are questions about what we would vote on. Would the options include no deal, the one on the table, and remain? But at least there would be a clearer mandate for the decision, whatever that might be.

None of this helps procurement people trying to work out the risks and the actions to take right now, of course, but we’ll talk about those on Thursday in our webinar with Jaggaer and special guest Jeremy Smith from 4C Associates. Join us then – we’ll try and keep the politics out of that session, but we will try and make some useful suggestions as to appropriate steps procurement can take that should be sensible, whatever happens next in the greater political scheme of things.

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