Brextrapolations (Part 3): Brexit scenarios and contexts

By | September 23, 2016

The short title of this 3-part series has steadily lost impact.

Speaker after speaker at the FISP seminar on ‘Brexit implications for the Information Society’ stressed the impossibility of predicting the outcomes of future negotiations and, as noted in Part 2, it is becoming clear that a large part of ‘trade negotiation’ falls into the Regulatory arena.

In this respect Richard Cadman’s paper (Note 1) is no exception but he does set out the polar extremes within which solutions will eventually be found.  It remains to be seen if his scenarios form a useful tool for understanding the outcomes but the most immediate value is to raise greater awareness of the context – a determined shift towards a more clearly defined Industrial Strategy.   Whilst Whitehall may prefer to take time to develop positions, the meeting was left in no doubt that major corporates were already well ahead with identifying their preferred outcomes – usually demanding less regulation.  At the same time it was also clear that much of the influence and respect that the UK may have enjoyed in the EU had already evaporated.

A further contextual influence may be the extent of devolution within the UK.  It has always been acknowledged that there is a tension between Top Down (national) policy and Bottom Up (local or regional) initiatives.  It is clear that Bottom Up policy developments cannot happen without Top Down system tolerance.   The reverse, of course, may previously have been thought not to apply but one of the EU referendum themes, ‘wanting control‘,was a message to Westminster that ‘our country’ held diverse and often localised meanings.  Taking ‘our country back‘ often meant taking it back from central control – a sentiment that raises questions about the perceived competence of local leaderships but also the mechanisms at the interface between Top Down and Bottom Up.  Scope clearly exists for Top Down policy control to be reduced towards core principles (the ‘light chassis’ model) with the expectation that local Enterprise and Local Government could together seize the growth opportunities offered.  Previous attempts at inducing sub-national growth do not, however, suggest this will be easily achieved.

Whether this implies further easing of local planning restrictions or extends to greater devolution of regulatory powers remains to be seen but the needs for (A) a multi-sector Industrial Strategy and (B) growth of the flow of FDI, are closely linked to greater local economic energy and empowerment.  It is perhaps timely that this week has seen publication of the RSA’s Inclusive Growth report.


Note 1.  20160922-brexit-paper-cadman