This article’s title is a direct quote made by a colleague when I mentioned that I had been asked to contribute this piece for DIY Investor.


He is quite right, this has been on-going for years. Therefore, my overriding hope is that the referendum on the 23rd June will see an end to this ‘never ending story’. Sadly, I fear this will not be the case.

From the outset I will state that I intend to show no political bias, nor do I intend to make compelling arguments for staying or leaving. There are certain indisputable facts, for example our contributions to the EU:


EU Membership Chart


The above was taken from, in an article entitled, ‘The UK’s EU Membership fee’, published on 25th February 2016. The tenet of the article is that whilst we can be sure how much we contribute, what we get back is harder to define. The table clearly shows actual EU spending on the UK, however their conclusion is that it’s far harder to be sure about how much, if anything, comes back in economic benefits. ‘There is no definitive study of the economic impact of the UK’s EU membership or the costs and benefits of withdrawal’, as the House of Commons Library says.

Many economists, fund managers, and captains of industry have put forth their opinion; for everyone that says we are better off staying, another makes an equally compelling argument for leaving.  Most, if not all, are far better qualified to comment than I; therefore I will not attempt to.

Instead I will pose two questions that were asked at a recent Brexit debate I attended.

The first was, ‘how easy will it actually to be to leave the EU’? Here we have consensus, it is widely accepted that it will take at least two years, which represents two years of uncertainty, and all investors know how much markets like uncertainty! Furthermore, there will be a good number of benefits we wish to keep. These will have to be renegotiated with the UK likely being in a position of weakness after leaving the club!

‘how easy will it actually to be to leave the EU’?

The second was, ‘will this be the end of the never ending story’? I think not. Whatever the outcome, and it looks like neither side will have an overwhelming majority, there will be people who are disappointed. Will they agitate for another referendum? Likely yes, making the title even more apt!

A poll in 26th February’s Evening Standard showed the current state of affairs as 53% voting out, 47% voting to stay.

Another effect of the disappointed majority will be the impact it has on the political parties. If we take the Conservatives there are a number of high profile people on either side of the divide, e.g. David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Can the loser put the defeat to one-side and move on? Or will we see the party splinter into two factions leading to the creation of a new party, or defections to UKIP or the Liberal Democrats? How would this impact on future elections and government; more coalitions?

Other than the unity of our political parties there is the unity of the nation to consider. Commentators are already suggesting that Scotland wishes to stay in the EU, if we vote to leave will they then vote to leave us? Will the regions of England that lose the benefit of EU investment see it replaced by government spending, if not will they want devolution and to re-join the EU?

One other point which the debate highlighted was demographics, older people are more likely than younger people to vote “out”. The following graph was published on the Channel 4 website on February 19th this year:


EU referendum voting


At this point I will admit to being in the middle range of this chart. The question it poses is, why is there this seemingly large demographic split? Logically it can be explained by the fact that those of us below 54, would have been, at worst, 11 when we joined what was then the EEC in 1973. Therefore we cannot really remember what it was like not being a member.

I decided to speak with some people in the older of the three age bands quoted; almost unanimously they intended to vote to leave, and therefore I asked why? What they said was based around Empire, being a great nation, we fought two wars against Germany and won, immigration, and waste of money. Strangely, no-one mentioned winning a world cup!

‘will this be the end of the never ending story’?

Now, I have always lived in London. What I see now is a thriving multi-cultural city, one that stands comparison with the other great cities of the world, and often it is a favourable comparison. My son works and lives for part of the year in New York, and in his words, “London is cool”. He even tells me that the underground is better than the New York subway!

The picture of London, and of the UK I have now isn’t the one I had when I was growing up. I remember strikes, inflation (more specifically, my parents worrying about it), queuing for petrol, but my overwhelming memory is that it was grey and drab. In case anyone can’t remember, the winter of 1978-79 was christened the “Winter of Discontent” because of the widespread strikes including refuse collectors, leading to Leicester Square being submerged in rubbish sacks


Leicester Square


Maybe the London I know is different because it has become more international, more cosmopolitan, perhaps because we have assimilated more European culture, or way of living?


Whatever the outcome on June 23rd, I fear ‘the never ending story’ will continue…………….


10 responses to “Brexit: ‘The Never Ending Story’”

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  7. […] This column was born in early 2016, prior to the Brexit referendum, under the heading ‘Brexit: The never ending story’. At the time I had no concept of how prescient that title would […]

  8. […] the initial article, ‘Brexit: ‘The never ending story’, published on 30th March 2016, I posed several questions, […]

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