Brexit, despite the best efforts of Blair himself, is no exception. Amid furious claim and counter-claim, most just don’t believe the hype. Rather than hard or soft, a no deal or a Chequers deal, we have lots of evidence that voters expect there to be a Boring Brexit. They just don’t think that their day-to-day lives will be affected much either way.
There are lots of reasons for this. Inflated pre-referendum forecasts overplayed the short-term impact of a vote to Leave, if not the overall trajectory of the economy since.
The Brexit conversation is conducted through the opaque terminology of backstops and meaningful votes. The continuous noise around Brexit eventually settles as an irritating fog.
Take one example: the level of direct foreign investment (FDI) into the UK from outside the EU. If there is less capital investment from abroad, there will probably be fewer jobs in the economy.
When Ipsos Mori and the Policy Institute at King’s College London asked the public what they expected to happen to foreign investment over the next five years, most shrugged and raised their eyebrows.
The most common answer was a third of people saying things wouldn’t change either way. This was followed by 28 per cent thinking that investment would see a slight uptick. Even among those who would definitely vote to Remain, stability was seen as the most likely outcome. In short, plus ça change.
At The UK in a Changing Europe, we asked our expert Brexit Policy Panel the same question. Over 70 per cent expect direct foreign investment from outside the EU to fall in the next five years. And there are already signs that their pessimism is well-founded. The UK Trade Policy Observatory calculates that FDI has already fallen by 19 per cent as a result of the Brexit vote.