MARTIN WOLF: New leadership must face up to implications of no-deal Brexit
No deal is either lunatic or a confidence trick. It is not a policy any sane or decent politician could even consider
After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31.” Thus did Boris Johnson launch his campaign for leadership of the Conservative party at a pivotal moment in the UK’s history. Choices made now will reverberate for generations. Trusting Johnson’s words is always foolhardy. But the implications are clear: if he cannot obtain a better deal than Theresa May’s (which the House of Commons has rejected three times), he must either turn tail or choose a no-deal Brexit.
Leaving the EU is in itself damaging: it will worsen the UK’s trading opportunities and influence on its continent and the world. That this is happening when the Western order is disintegrating and a new cold war between the US and China is emerging makes the UK even more vulnerable. But a no-deal option would be far more damaging than leaving the EU in an orderly manner. The fact that senior politicians are contemplating it renders them altogether unfit for office.