While I have views, these are not predictions because, quite frankly, we’re living through unprecedented times here.
And when those charged with developing a coherent strategy for the future appear to have little idea of the results they might deliver, it seems folly to join the chorus of those who are even further removed from this.
What we can focus on is the result and how it might have been achieved. If this was the Brexit election then the Conservative’s decision to focus on a message, effectively summed up as “no deal is better than a bad deal”, failed to hit home with enough people.
This argument clearly didn’t resonate with the electorate, which instead reiterated its discontent with those they might believe to be the political establishment, who would be charged with getting that deal.
For many, I suspect, no deal appears to be the worst possible deal and many voters probably lacked confidence in a party which seemed to be somehow okay with leaving the negotiations with just that.
With the minority government appearing to be in place, there has obviously been a lot of talk about how the election outcome will have to change the stance taken on Brexit.
Was this a result which consigned a hard Brexit negotiation to the dustbin?
From media debates it appears so – especially when you add in the views of the DUP, who despite being keen Brexiteers, want to see a frictionless border in terms of trade and goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
We’ve already seen a more conciliatory tone adopted by some within the government, with much more talk about opening up the debate to other parties and more interests.
Clearly, the group of 12 Scottish Conservatives will play a major role here, given that leader Ruth Davidson has called for a more open Brexit.
Theresa May can ill-afford to alienate this group, or indeed any other within her party. This is however easier said than done, as is the ability to pursue a softer approach in the negotiations.
Some of the aims still appear incompatible:
- free trade is likely to mean free movement of goods and people, which many in the country don’t want to agree to;
- membership of the single market/customs union is likely to mean a big pay-out to achieve, again something that many will not agree to.
At this moment, to say this will be a delicate and complex negotiation, seems like the biggest understatement.
However, it’s my quest to see the positives in all of this.
In the long-term I get the impression that this election result, and what may follow over the course of the next two years and beyond, is now more likely to ensure a far better outcome for the UK economy than we appeared to be heading for pre-election.
That’s not a prediction, as there is clearly plenty of water to flow underneath this bridge, but given that a softer Brexit now appears inevitable, there could be more reasons to be cheerful in our post-EU landscape.