This is a positive case for a slow Brexit by proving the benefits before abandoning existing markets in the EU.
The EU is in serious trouble mostly because the Euro is unsuitable for the range of economies that it ties together. This benefits Germany but penalises Spain/France/Italy/Greece. Also, the EU’s very high standards are incompatible with those of emergent new economies like India and China. Their main advantage is the mirror opposite of those standards so the EU protects itself with barriers. This is logical in the short term but problematic in the long term.
The UK economy is highly integrated with the EU. Leaving will be disruptive and the losses might be made up by trading more globally, but this is unproven. UK would face the same dichotomy as the EU if it seeks free trade with low-wage, low-regulation economies like China and India. There might be a Global Britain prize but it is probably smaller than claimed.
Unfortunately, the British people were asked in an absurdly glib exercise in 2016 if they wanted to leave the EU. They said yes. Successive people, (until now!) promised to deliver that. Not doing so will erode trust in our democracy. Since then Eurosceptism was briefly championed by politicians in the mainstream but their failure to deliver will naturally reinvigorate an unattractive radical fringe.
So how to square this?
Front up to the British people and say we absolutely hear that you want to leave the EU but the price of doing so suddenly, will be too high. We need to disengage over at least 5 years maybe 10. During that time there will be general elections and so maintaining the direction of this disengagement will probably be the dominant issue. You will get asked again but not in a referendum.
Meanwhile, the government gets on with proving the Global Britain proposition by doing everything possible to increase the amount of new trade with suitable non EU countries. (Suitable means similar income and regulation standards. Ie USA, Canada, Australasia Japan, South Korea) To do this the Government enacts quite radical policies. For example, the DTI supports UK exports by creating strong teams in those economies. Treasury shifts the tax burden from National Insurance and business rates to VAT. This will have the effect of making UK exports cheaper and, in effect, raise the cost of imports. (UK should do this anyway). UK should frack its way to cheaper energy which would benefit manufacturing jobs. UK pursues a regionally based national industrial strategy in which the government supports specialisation in particular regions with training, underwriting loans etc. Examples are aircraft manufacture in Preston, AI for agriculture in a Hereford, software in Shoreditch, media in Bristol etc. In other words develop existing regional trends.
In effect this is how the UK would use the long extension the EU has more or less offered.
This is not Remain in sheep’s clothing. The trajectory is Leave so any party that wants to change that trajectory will need to make its case to remain in face of the EU as it is now and not as it once was. Remainers have had a free pass on this to date and are not being asked to square their remain preference with eg riots in France.
So this formula is probably the PM’s deal but sold a little differently. Call it Slow Brexit but presented as a desirable positive choice and not a tooth extraction. This sell would have been more powerful two years ago, but we are where we are. The Backstop is a problem but the UK is in a weak position to argue its way way out of it now. If the Global Britain proposition is proven in say 5 years time, it will be an easier case to make.
There probably is a Brexit prize but it makes sense to prove it first and only then jump.
Who best deliver this. No idea really. Maybe Liz Truss. She is funny, indeed almost stand up, worked in sales, understands money is finite and has lead in her handbag. There are others in both Labour and even the SDP.