Brexit Compromise Is Over-- Only MPs Can Save Adland Now

Adland's hopes on the Brexit debate have arguably taken a turn for the worse today with the announcement that Theresa May will resign on June 7th, after Donald Trump's visit.

Now, it may be an assumption, but I think few in adland would disagree that the majority of the advertising and marketing industry are almost certainly in favour of remaining in the EU -- or if Brexit has to happen, maintaining the closest possible business ties.

That's my feeling from talking to people in the industry, and it gets more entrenched the more tech the business. People are very concerned about the prospect of a hard Brexit curtailing access to top talent, or at the very least, making Britain a less attractive place to bring your tech skills. Digital marketing, in particular, is packed with young, bright people who want to travel and work around the EU as easily as they commute on the underground each morning.

So why the concern?

Well, to bring our American colleagues up to speed, Theresa May had been trying in vain to plot a middle course between not leaving and a hard Brexit. She mistakenly called an election, in which her majority was slashed, forcing her to sign up the support of the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland. When her "deal" with the EU required separate arrangements for Northern Ireland, to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, she lost that unionist support, as well as a large swathe of her own party. 

The result has been paralysis in parliament that has led to the slowest car crash in history.

Now we have the Brexit Party expected to dominate the EU election results when they are announced on Sunday and the Conservative party is almost certain to pick a harder-line Brexiter than Theresa May. All those in the running, so far, are committed to a hard Brexit if they feel a deal more favourable to the UK than the one on the table is not offered.

I suspect that Sunday's EU election results will show massive gains for both the newly formed Brexit party and the Lib Dems and Greens who are opposed to Brexit.

Yet again, elections will just show how divided the country is and prompt the Conservative to listen to the right, rather than the centre and centre left of UK politics. It was UKIP's rise that prompted David Cameron to call the EU referendum in the first place.

So why should anyone in adland care? Well, we're in for a hard-line Brexit Government in October when we are -- yet again -- due to leave the EU.

It means more uncertainty rather than a countdown to an orderly, agreed-upon exit or revocation of Article 50.

We've got more of the same, but on the emphasis of a lurch to the right toward a Boris Johnson government screaming "no surrender" as we count down the clock to a potential hard Brexit.

There is a lot of talk about Boris, or the next PM, not being able to get a better deal. The truth is, they probably don't feel they need to. They would rather walk than negotiate, even if it puts us in the limbo of WTA rules. 

American businesspeople may well feel this is a good place for the UK to be in and that it makes a direct trade deal between us more likely. I would suggest the US is probably more likely to prioritise a trade deal with the much larger EU. But we'll see.

So I'm not going to sugar coat this. Adland, we're not in a good place. The clock is ticking toward a hard Brexit in October, and the next PM will be totally fine with that. 

If we are agreed that the industry would prefer a confirmatory vote -- on a deal versus leaving, or leaving versus staying -- MPs are going to have to stand up to their colleagues on the right of the Conservative party and push through a so-called People's Vote. 

I honestly wouldn't give it more than a 50:50 chance right now.

Today's resignation announcement makes a hard Brexit look more likely than it has ever been since the 2016 vote -- even if it happens by default by just staring the "enemy" in the eye until the clock ticks down.

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