Brexit explained: you asked, our experts answered
Who are the winners and losers, and is there any way Brexit won't happen? FT writers and editors Miranda Green, Peter Spiegel, Robert Shrimsley and Anne-Sylvaine Chassany answer questions from the FT's Instagram followers
Produced, directed and edited by James Sandy; filmed by Petros Gioumpasis; animation by Russell Birkett
Hello. Thank you.
Who are the winners and losers, globally?
Unfortunately, I think there are only losers in this affair. I mean the UK is probably going to lose more out of it, but the EU, as well, is going to be hit from an economic point of view.
There are definite losers. A lot of companies that came to Britain, particularly foreign companies, as a gateway to Europe. You look at the Japanese in particular. So build a big plant in Sunderland... your Nissan, your car company... because you can get good workers here in Britain, and you can export into Europe.
Well, boom. Suddenly you have an uncertain future in which you have, maybe, some new customs arrangement. Maybe it's harder to export into Europe. The biggest relationship in Asia with Britain is those foreign direct investors, and they're going to be losers.
In terms of winners, probably those who think they'll benefit from seeing all of the postwar co-operation and consensus, the kind of rules-based system across the world. To see that shaken. The winners from that are those who think that any instability in the world gives them an extra toehold. Russia. Probably quite delighted at the west falling apart through Brexit as well as through other things.
There are other people, obviously, across Europe who would like to tempt the financial services away from London, and they will benefit from Brexit as people gradually leave London as that great financial hub that it's been over the last few decades. Since the 1980s, essentially.
For the EU, there is a silver lining, which is that the subject of Brexit has united the other member states. With the UK leaving the union it reminded everybody, the other member states, that the union was worth fighting for. That the political project underpinning the European Union was worth it, because Brexit has become almost an existential threat.
All right. Should I go for the last one?
OK. So I get this question a lot. Is there any way that it won't happen?
Yes, there is a way. It's a possibility. It's however, a very low probability, I would think.
The likelihood of a second referendum has increased because the withdrawal agreement that Theresa May has negotiated is not pleasing anyone, neither the Brexiteers nor the Remainers. So people on both sides are now beginning to think, well, maybe we should turn to the people and ask them again.
I would not count myself among those who believe this is going to happen. I think a referendum happened. It was close. But I don't think the majority of Britons, even if you voted for Remain, think we should do this again. I just don't think there's a huge groundswell of support for a second referendum. And I think, frankly, if there was a second referendum, I'm not sure there's a guarantee that there would be the result that the Remainers want.
It has to be said, you can't know what would happen if there was a second referendum. The Remainers have some advantage. They've now been ahead in the opinion polls a little bit. Not hugely, but a little bit ahead in the opinion polls for several months.
Also, we know that younger voters are more likely to vote Remain, and older voters were more likely to vote Leave. So we're two years on. A number of older voters have passed away, and two years' worth of younger voters have arrived on the electoral roll. Those things all help Remain.
Against that is the question that the British people don't really like the idea of being told to vote again because they got it wrong last time. And this is rather like having your homework handed back to you. There could well be a tendency within the voters to say, look, we told you what the answer to this question was two years ago. Why are you asking us again? Just get on with it.
The other thing I will say is, I think there is some who hope that Europe will save Britain on this front, that they will see chaos ensuing after a no-deal Brexit, or that things have gotten so messy that May can't get things through parliament, and Europe will stand up and say, look, we'll extend your membership, we'll extend Article 50, we'll let you stay for a couple more years, let you guys figure out whether you really want to do this.
The fact of the matter is, they have bigger fish to fry right now. So I don't think looking to Brussels, looking to the Europeans to sort of save this and prevent it from happening. I don't think that's a likely outcome, either.