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Brexit won't happen because Britain doesn't need it anymore. Here's why

Desperate for some reassurance on the future of Europe? Just watch as the next chapter begins

Sean O'Grady
Tuesday 22 November 2016 18:59 GMT
The shift in European politics could mean that Britain no longer needs to leave the EU to achieve the Brexiteers' aims
The shift in European politics could mean that Britain no longer needs to leave the EU to achieve the Brexiteers' aims (Getty)

After a turbulent fortnight in world politics, Britain is in need of a little reassurance. If you’re looking to the future of Brexit Britain with fear and trepidation, rather than hope and pride, here are five reasons to relax. This is why Brexit won’t happen – because maybe we won’t need to leave the European Union after all.

1. Marine Le Pen will win the French presidential election

This is scheduled for next April or May, and thus well inside the Brexit deadline. Although a shocking and horrendous prospect, the one practical point for Britain is that Le Pen’s Front National is campaigning for “Frexit” (or “Fraxit”). In effect, this would require a refashioning of the EU on the sort of lines British Eurosceptics really want: an end to free movement of people and repatriation of some powers to national parliaments, but keeping much of the economic relationships.

2. Or, alternatively, Marine le Pen will lose the French presidential election

But the current leading right-winger Francois Fillon can see that he will need to radically reform the EU in a Eurosceptic direction if he is to preserve it, and France’s perilous political stability too. So, once again, things move in a Eurosceptic direction and Europe reforms itself along Brexit lines.

3. Angela Merkel will do badly in the German elections

A close shave with political mortality – including the first parliamentary seats for the far-right party Alternative fur Deutschland – might persuade even the determined Merkel to reform the EU, and especially the free movement of people. Thus, public opinion would combine with strong a business case by German exporters to the UK to amend the German policy. In which case, a new, reinvented EU would be one the British would feel comfortable in again.

4. Theresa May could go for an early election – and then lose the gamble

Frankly, anything could happen in the current atmosphere. But it is perfectly possible May would lose her majority if some combination of opposition parties goes for a second Brexit referendum, either as a matter of official policy or as a by-product of an outbreak of civil war in the Labour Party. Indeed, the next general election could turn into a de facto second Brexit referendum.

Ironically, a big vote for Ukip could lead to some unpredictable results in safe Labour seats and Tory/Labour marginals. It’s all to play for.

EU’s position in Brexit negotiations 'does not make sense'

5. Labour gets real about Brexit

At some point the Labour grassroots will need to decide what they love more: Europe, or Corbyn? If the only thing that stands between the party and preventing Brexit is the attitude of the current leader, then even some of his more devoted supporters might wonder about a new leadership and the chance to change that policy of allowing Article 50 to be activated.

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