FORGET deal or no deal regarding Brexit (The Yorkshire Post, September 18). The real issue facing the UK is the economic harm that leaving the Single Market will cause. A second referendum is therefore needed now, not least by Theresa May herself, for four reasons: economics; politics; fairness and her place in history.
Firstly, economics. Leaving the Single Market will lead to price inflation in at least the medium term, causing further falls in sterling and resulting in increased uncertainty, unemployment and negative growth at a time when the UK has no proper trade deals in place with countries whose goods and services it needs (and to whom it will then pay punitive tariffs, thereby exacerbating inflation).
This instability will force many institutions abroad, or out of business, leading to a fall in GDP and therefore the tax base by around £80bn (according to the Treasury), thus leaving a major shortfall in revenue for public services, not least the NHS.
Secondly, politics. This self-harm will be difficult for May to manage if she survives internal coups. Voters will blame her Government for the mess, thereby resulting in a Labour-led coalition, under which borrowing, debt and inflation would worsen (leading to calls to re-join the European Union, albeit on less favourable terms than those enjoyed at present).
Next, fairness. Most who voted for Brexit did so in the misguided belief it would lead to less foreign workers and more fiscal revenue for public services. Since then, the real costs and opportunity costs of leaving the EU have become clearer, leading to second thoughts and the realisation by many Brexit voters that they were sold a pup by grubby politicians offering pie-in-the-sky based on false premises. Surely it is only fair, therefore, to have another vote on a more informed basis?
Lastly, the Prime Minister’s place in history. May knows a stitch in time saves nine and that the logical response to this fiasco is to hold another referendum, but feels constrained by forces in her own party. However, as PM, her first duty is to the people of the UK, and to show leadership, which is all about making difficult decisions.
If then she holds a second referendum, regardless of the result, she will be regarded as a genuine leader who did the right thing; if not, she will be forever seen as a rather listless figure who had neither the strength nor foresight to step back from the brink, and who did nothing as the UK slid into years of economic misery and decline.