Mayday: UK rudderless, adrift and confidence is sinking fast

Matthew Goodwin considers what the future holds for a divided country that is all at sea

The World Today
Published 5 April 2019 Updated 6 November 2020 4 minute READ

Professor Matthew Goodwin

Former Visiting Senior Fellow, Europe Programme

By the time you read this, the United Kingdom was supposed to have officially left the European Union. Or at least that was the plan. Ever since the 2016 referendum, in the minds of Britain’s Eurosceptics the date of March 29 has been synonymous with Brexit Day; the moment when their country would finally exit the EU, reclaim its sovereignty and step out into the wider world. Instead, something very different has been taking place.

Rather than managing its exit, as March 29 approached the UK found itself agreeing to the terms of an extension set out by the EU. This moment, in turn, reflected a succession of political miscalculations, not least Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to win majority support for her withdrawal deal in the House of Commons on three separate occasions. As a result, and rather than walk away with a highly disruptive ‘no deal’, Britain and the EU agreed upon a variable extension to Article 50 to delay Brexit.

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