The government is bluffing, but it is time we fold on Brexit

There is an art to persevering against the odds. In poker, perfecting an impassive expression that hides a bad deal can deliver a win even in the most impossible scenarios, but no amount of steely glares can compensate for an empty hand come the flop.

The UK is holding a near empty hand in its Brexit negotiations, and it is a gamble that has already cost ordinary people dearly as we progress the negotiations.

Earlier this week Bank of England Governor Mike Carney told a Treasury select committee of MPs that British households are more than £900 worse off after the vote to leave the EU, with the economy two per cent smaller than forecast before the EU referendum.

The news comes as the EU accused the British government of “chasing a fantasy” in its negotiations after a fraught week of talks in Brussels.

The government is facing the ultimate gambler’s dilemma. Does it persevere, in the knowledge that it is reliant on luck alone to get out unscathed, or does it fold, and swallow the cost of getting to this point in the game.

Right now their policy is to bluff. Private jets for senior diplomats are nothing other than a false illusion of a thriving Britain outside the EU.

Claims that countries are “queuing up” to strike trade agreements with Britain after it leaves the EU is also not true.

Which means that soon enough we are going to have to seriously consider cutting our losses.

To do so now would be seen as a betrayal of the British public’s will, but the government should seriously consider the option of a so-called “People’s Vote” before a final Brexit deal is struck.

It isn’t the cheapest option, it isn’t the most effective option, but given that we are already deep into the game it is probably the only rescue deal that is plausible.

After all, most people were mis-sold on a Brexit outcome that isn’t going to be delivered.

They didn’t vote to be poorer. But the leaked report on Brexit’s effects shows that is what will happen in every region.

They didn’t vote for fresh tax hikes, but new analysis on what the NHS needs to cope with future demand shows that UK spending on healthcare will have to rise by an average 3.3 per cent a year over the next 15 years just to maintain NHS provision at current levels.

With the odds shortening on a second vote, the time is nigh for the UK to bow out of a misguided process while we still have some chips on the table.


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