Brexit Is A ‘Lose-Lose’ Situation

By Charles Jaja-Sackey

In the weeks after the Brexit Referendum, certainly when Theresa May became Prime Minister, majority of Remain voters accepted the Referendum results. Because when it comes to governance some things are fundamental, like the system upon which governance is built on, which in the case of the United Kingdom is democracy.

Underpinning democracy is the accepted principle that votes and the results thereof must be accepted. After all, a principle is not a principle, until it costs you.

The problem with Brexiters I think however, is the idea they hold that Brexit in and of itself comes only with [only] “upsides”. And therein lies the problem that has driven the country into a political, and soon very likely, an economic crisis.

Earlier this week I argued that there are more deficiencies in having a technocrat as an elected official, this does not mean technocrats are not essential in government. Throughout this process, two of the outstanding technocrats in my humble opinion have been Michel Barnier and Sir Ivan Rogers.

Having read from, and listened to them I have become even more aware of the realities of Brexit, and interestingly their views and to a larger extent the opinions of possible outcomes as stated by Ivan Rogers (considering he’s more at liberty to speak on the matter having resigned from government), has not been wrong.

Look, Brexit is not a “win-win” situation, ok? Hell, it’s not even a “win-lose” situation. The reality is that Brexit is a “lose-lose” situation – it is what is known as a “negative sum”. To give this more context, think about simple zero-sum games between two players, like chess for instance where you can have one winner.

But for complex negative-sum games between two or more players, like the Brexit negotiations, all sides could lose, which is where the problems begin. For us to understand the position that the EU has taken, you need to accept this reality. But as we all know, politicians would rather sell snake oil, than accept what could potentially lose them votes.

Brexit is a negative-sum, and by virtue of this outcome, each party would be trying to limit their “losses”, therefore there would be no palatable choices. Every choice will be excruciatingly difficult, the trade-offs would hurt. You will certainly end up with “the one who lost, and the one who lost more.” There are no winners here. Somehow it seems to me like it is only one side that understands this.

You want to uphold the principles of respecting a democratic process? Fine, I agree. We have also set the red lines that defines what Brexit is. So why are we surprised that those red lines come with unpalatable outcomes?

A principle isn’t a principle, until it costs you.

Jaja-Sackey wrote in from London, UK

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