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28 months later #2 – a cartoon guide to Brexit futures

June 28, 2016

Last week I put up “28 months later – a cartoon guide to the referendum”. But it was too late in the day to make any vital difference. A week can be a very long time in politics, as they say.

Now we have on the table….. government in turmoil on all sides (except the SNP), society deeply divided between metropolitan and provincial, imminent rise of racism & fascism, betrayal of younger by older generations, exodus of talent & investment, Austerity#2 for public services and welfare for those most in need, probable breakup of the UK, and the greatest act of national self-harm in economic history…

Bets might be taken on any one of these, for instance ‘the probable breakup of the UK’, as the experts really can’t say at this point.

So when in doubt, I get the flipchart out, and explore some questions of ‘What-If’….

  • A) – (at the extreme negative end of the scale) – “After Brexit the UK crashed… Scotland left & the EU fell apart. Trump took USA & Putin took Eastern Europe… climate change caused mass migration, fascism & terrorism”
  • B) “While the UK was mired in division & uncertainty, pressures grew … austerity, financial crisis, refugees, terrorism, etc… Governments just about held on, but the most vulnerable businesses & communities really struggled”
  • C) “After ‘Brexit-Max’ most of the UK hollowed out, but London grew as the world’s biggest tax haven & southern England as its playground… The economy was fully deregulated, so migration is higher than before”
  • D) – (at a more positive end of the scale) – “Going into the EEA, the UK becomes a beacon of peace & prosperity, working with a more responsive multi-layered EU, for business, workers & communities..”

The bigger point is, the future doesn’t just happen… We are shaping it all the time… So where’s the sense of direction?? Do we know what we are aiming for, in government, business or society, now that structural divisions and conflicts have erupted in all directions??

We could call on strategy and foresight methods and tools. We could start by analysing clusters of inter-connected uncertainties and drivers of change. Then we can ask the ‘what if’ questions in detail, and look for chains of risk and vulnerability. And we could explore the dynamics of the crisis, and seek out unexpected opportunities…

At this moment the scenarios you see here are thrown together in great haste – but over the coming weeks and months, SAMI will be pursuing the what-if questions, in parallel with ‘events, events’…


28 days later #2

Meanwhile for those interested in discussion of ‘navigating turbulent times both near and far’, with the help of pictures, maps and conversations, welcome to

Written by Joe Ravetz, Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy, University of Manchester and SAMI Principal.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. wastedspacer permalink
    July 6, 2016 12:20 am

    I’m a UK ex-pat living in California I find myself totally bewildered by this decision. Given the sheer number of voters claiming they only voted leave in order to “send a message” in the expectation there was no way the UK would leave! Perhaps if there had been an opportunity on the ballot for them to add a protest I suspect we would still be a member of the EU. In retrospect perhaps the ballot should not have been binary Leave/Stay but instead binary with an optional emphasis – i.e.

    Leave unconditionally
    [optional] Leave however retain key connections and apply to rejoin EEA/EFTA


    Remain unconditionally
    [optional] Remain but demand some renegotiation of membership along the lines of what the PM was requesting some months ago.

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