D-Day dawns. After debate, discourse and disagreement, it’s decision time. Remain or leave. While I’ve known from the start which way I will vote, time and again over past months, I’ve come across many who said they didn’t know which way to vote. I hope by now, despite the fractious arguments from both camps, all these people have now gathered enough information to make as rational a decision as they can in the voting booth. Of course, one person’s definition of “enough information” will be different from that of another.
On Friday, the result will be known and the economic and political landscape of the country may be clearer. After a recent fluctuation indicating increased support for the Leave campaign, the betting has shifted back to suggest the majority, however large or narrow it may be, of the voting public will opt to remain in the EU.
This is understandable: risk aversion of voters in similar circumstances is well-established and created a significant barrier for the Leave campaign to overcome. Nonetheless, it would be a foolhardy person who would predict a Remain vote with absolute certainty.
While those supporting the Leave campaign would undoubtedly be crestfallen, or at least disappointed, with such a result, many of the Remain voters, if not actually rejoicing, will be heaving a sigh of relief that with the shenanigans all over they can get back to watching Euro 2016, Glastonbury and Wimbledon without the sword of Damocles that was Brexit hanging over them.
Everyone, no matter what their political persuasion, will surely be looking forward to news broadcasts where Iain Duncan-Smith, Tom Watson, Nicola Sturgeon, Michael Gove, George Osborne, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnston, David Cameron and Nigel Farage aren’t constantly shouting over each other with claim and counter claim.
And if, as expected in the event of a Remain vote, the value of sterling increases, the Great British public will look forward to getting more holiday euros and dollars to their pound. Investors, too, are likely to be in a sunnier mood if, again as anticipated, the value of the UK stock market increases as the country gets back to business as usual.
Business as usual, however, means that after any euphoria has dissipated politicians and policy makers have to deal with the economic reality of low average disposable income, low interest rates and low wage growth.
What, though, if the country, contrary to expectation votes to leave the EU?
For one thing, it’s likely to dash hopes of settling down in front of the telly free of politics to watch Wales thrash Germany in the Euro final, Coldplay and Adele rocking Glastonbury and Murray beat Djokovic into submission. A period of uncertainty would be ahead with Europe likely to remain front page news. Each side will attempt to shape the debate around what a UK outside the EU would look like.
Economically, it could mean that holiday makers’ hopes of a revival in sterling would be dashed as sterling could be devalued. However for the economy as a whole, worse things could happen. Devaluation could make the UK more attractive for some investors and make exports more attractive. If the UK stock market fell, this could represent a buying opportunity.
Despite David Cameron’s warning that such a decision would be final, the Referendum could be re-run with generous EU incentives for another attempt at a vote.
What a thought. If there’s anything I’d like politicians to learn from this referendum, it’s never to hold a referendum.