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“Britain in 2030: Scenarios for post-Brexit Britain”

October 5, 2017

For party conference season, SAMI has produced “Britain in 2030: Four Scenarios for post-Brexit Britain”. Conscious that much of the conversation around the UK leaving the European Union is inevitably influenced by the various political positions of both sides, we wanted to allow policymakers to have an apolitical space in which to consider the possible futures for the country.

The UK does not operate in isolation, of course, so we were concerned with outlining some versions of what the world itself looked like, to provide context for the UK’s future. We will be covering this piece of work in this blog and the three following. This blog covers the methodology we used; the next one the two options best described as ‘globalisation, then ‘localisation’, and finally we will draw out some conclusions from the whole exercise.

A scenario is not a forecast: it is a tool for thinking, an assembly of evidence and imagination, projected forwards to enable anticipatory thinking and planning. Scenarios tend to avoid wide variations from the path as visible from the now, so we regret that we do not anticipate, for instance, radical variations from a reasonably wide cone of possibilities.

Scenario vs forecast

After some consideration we chose two axes to build up a model for our scenarios. Whilst of course there are many factors in the decision to leave the EU, we chose what seemed to us to be two clear contradictions: the drive to globalisation (open borders and international organisations) compared to the desire for localisation (closed borders and bilateral trade deals); and the increasing debate between the free market, economically focussed approach on the one side compared to the social cohesion approach on the other – essentially, neo-liberalism versus the Podemos approach. This gives us four distinct quadrants, allowing us to develop scenarios for each.

SAMI Futures model

As we work through them, it will be clear that there are some recurring elements – and some which do not appear at all. Most obviously, this is a scenario set for 2030, and we have therefore not included climate change to any significant degree – the consensus is that this horizon is too short for major effects. We have, though, assumed a crisis of one sort or another in the near-medium term, though we have not specified it: it may be Brexit in itself; it may equally be another financial crisis or a geopolitical event. We have also assumed that the continuing development in biotechnology will continue, though we have located this development in Asia, partly to avoid it contaminating the model for UK and Europe.

Our next blog will examine the two quadrants above the horizontal axis – Global competition; and the Global common approach. We welcome your thoughts and comments.

Written by Jonathan Blanchard Smith, SAMI Associate.

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

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