Whether it’s “Brexit means Brexit” or a “Global Britain”, the UK Government and to a lesser extent the Opposition have tried to come up with some kind of vision for a post-Brexit Britain. To put it lightly, many feel that this these ‘strategies’ and ‘visions’ have not been engaging, realistic or effective. On Friday 2nd March we await the third speech from the Prime Minister in which, it seems, the whole country is chomping at the bit to hear something that we can grasp and hold onto as our vision, our mantra for the next phase of British history.
In light of this we have seen a number of groups put forward their ideas and visions of how a post-Brexit Britain should look. Carolyn Fairbairn, the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, stressed the importance of gaining clarity on any changes Brexit will have on the British workforce. Fairbairn put forward three steps that she believes will create a business friendly post-Brexit immigration system: guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK, establish a transition period to any new migration system, rule out using the non-EU visa system for EU nationals.
The Labour Campaign for the Single Market have released a statement, signed by 37 MPs and numerous Peers, outlining their vision of a post-Brexit Britain that should retain the economic benefits of the Single Market by remaining part of the European Economic Area. Their view is that this would allow the Labour party to meet its commitments to anti-austerity measures and social justice, whilst avoiding a disruption of the Good Friday Agreement. For them, Britain needs to remain as part of the Single Market in order to meet these important demands. Importantly, the words ‘migration’ or ‘immigration’ do not appear once in their statement, which is notable because the trade-off for staying within the European Economic Area would be less control over immigration, which is arguably the biggest reason the British people voted to Leave the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn has announced that the stance of the Labour party will be for Britain to remain part of the Customs Union. This of course distances their stance from the Cabinet and might be said to be somewhat of a middle ground for the ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Brexiteers in the country. The problem with this, however, is that it is still too far for some and not far enough for others, which seems the be the response to all visions put forward about Brexit. So within this climate of competing visions and ideas, what role could a small group of students at the London School of Economics possibly play?
Thinking About Brexit (@tabrexit) was launched in October last year as a student-led think tank determined to find a positive and realistic vision for post-Brexit Britain. We write Thought Pieces in which one Thinker outlines their vision in a specific area such as the Economy, then we have Thought Sessions in which we debate the ideas put forward and strengthen the overall vision in that area.
In some ways the most important part of our work isn’t the ideas we put forward, but it is the way we package these ideas and the simple fact that we are a group of young people actively engaging in a big political debate. We want our peers to see what we do and feel comfortable to chime in on these issues too, we want big issues to be accessible to young people so that we’re not just spectators but active and informed participants in the issues that will affect us the most.
You can find our content on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, we make it as engaging and accessible as possible, with filmed content from our Thought Sessions specially edited for the platforms they appear on.
Having said all this, what do we think post-Brexit Britain should look like? One area we have given particular focus to is the future trading relationship Britain will have with both the EU and the Rest of the World. Unlike the Labour party, we think that remaining part of the Single Market or Customs Union would not be realistic as it would be undermining key reasons behind the vote that was cast in June 2016, however we certainly feel that a no deal Brexit would not be a positive outcome. While it would be positive to continue to enjoy the current economic freedoms post-Brexit, we don’t see this as a realistic vision if Britain would want to have further control of her borders.
Considering this we believe the most positive and realistic option for Britain would be an adapted form of the Singaporean model, which allows for the maximum possible economic ties with the EU whilst respecting separate rules on migration. A deal such as this would only be positive if it goes hand in hand with a concerted effort to strengthen and establish strong ties with a number of emerging and established non-EU nations.
We understand that this vision still leaves a lot to be desired for many members of the EU and the UK, however in a situation that is as complex as it is emotive, this vision provides the UK with a positive and realistic compromise that allows it to strengthen itself internally whilst remaining a cosmopolitan hub that attracts the best the world has to offer.
To join in the conversation with us and to have a more detailed look at our vision, visit our website thinkingabout.org and follow us on social media @tabrexit