Brexit Damage Control

There is no putting Humpty back.

After last week's vote, threat by referenda is the order of the day for the Euro and the EU--with calls in France, the Netherlands, Portugal amongst others, and forthcoming in Italy in the Autumn--regardless of what the Brits do from here.

Thus, Britain needs to prepare for what it has unleashed, because things have unravelled fast--in the UK and Europe politically, and in markets globally.

To that end, note that had the vote shares differed just a tad, the weekend-long Remain brouhaha about decision by a minority of eligible voters, Leave lies, and a new vote subject to new rules would instead be completely still. So it is all worse than gracelessness in defeat; it is the presumption of entitlement, rejected so roundly by the result itself, obliviously and self-rightously writ large. It needs to stop.

And for every mocking complaint about the vacuity and inconsistencies in Leave planning for the day after, ask why Remain, possessing every advantage of preparation, timing, foreign allies, and government, proved incapable of conveying them. Could it be, perhaps, that the fault lay with their own shortcomings--as reflected in prior Eurosceptic records long insouciant with economic "truths", such as austerity and migration targets? Inadequacies of leadership are, sadly, all around.

So to start serious damage control, Remain needs to get off its wounded perch. Carping is only seriously aggravating matters.

But Boris has a central role too.

There are six matters to which he should attend immediately (today) if he is to get the job of global damage control underway.

First, he should unreservedly condemn every act of racism in the UK since the vote, saying that the point was not to shut out the world but to take a fresh place in it. So intolerance and crime have no blessing and the police have his full backing for any prosecutions. That would set his tone as inclusive.

Second, he should unreservedly affirm his confidence in Governor Mark Carney. The case Mr. Farage and others make for review has no standing, now or later. The bank's independence is essential to stabilizing markets now, and its mandates for inflation and financial stability remain valid. That would set his tone as serious.

Third, he should affirm that were he to be elected leader of the party, his first step would be to activate Article 50, formally initiating UK departure from the EU, and his second would be to call a General Election. Thus, rather than a neverendum, the election would debate Brexit terms. This would set his tone as decisive.

Fourth, in proposing a Brexit strategy, he should prioritize services access to the single market and grandfathering all rights for EU workers already in the UK, seeking controls only on those who may come in future, with policing via employers and service providers rather than new border controls. UK participation in the CAP would end and these resources, not "EU budget contributions", would be redirected to high priorities within the UK budget. And his default approach for non-EU trading agreements would be to replicate the status quo. Whether or not he gets all these, this would set his tone as stabilizing, free-trading, and Merkel-friendly.

Fifth, and accordingly, he should urge the Scots and Northern Irish to stick with the UK. A Brexit deal along his proposed lines would secure the essence of both nations' economic and border concerns. This would set his tone as British, not English.

And last, he should set out his stall on the UK fiscal framework for coming years to the responsible left (yes left) of Cameron-Osborne. With UKIP hemmed in by the voting system, Labour openly self-harming, and the prevailing fiscal framework discredited, unrealistic, and overtaken by Brexit, he can draw votes from Labour-Leave and set fiscal policy credibly and coherently, even if UKippers abandon him due to migration. This would establish a One Nation tone, and put much needed daylight between himself and his predecessors on fiscal credibility.

Though late, it would all strike a very different tone.

Will he do it? His record gives no ground for confidence that he will. But, who knows, perhaps one of his mates holded up with him in Oxfordshire yesterday can bend him in this direction, very fast.