EU Referendum Result Blog by Gavin Devine

By Gavin Devine, Porta Communications

Published on by Stephen Byfield


Published today by PR Week read Gavin Devine's analysis of the EU Referendum result below.

Gavin is Chief Operating Officer of Porta Communications, which owns PPS Group and a Managing Partner of our sister company Newgate Communications. Gavin is on the board of the PRCA, and was APPC Deputy Chair.  He regularly comments on business and political issues, including on his Huffington Post blog.

** Join us next Wednesday 29th June for our EU Result debate - more details here **

I am in shock. I can't pretend I'm not. I knew it was going to be close, but the polls all said Remain, the betting markets said Remain and the financial markets said Remain. Common sense said Remain.  Turns out we were all deluding ourselves.

The first losers of this ‎referendum are the pollsters and the strategists. Not only has their methodology been found wanting yet again, their assumptions have too. Last night proves that a high turnout was not to Remain's advantage, not when the turnout reflects an outpouring of anger and alienation. Some reputations, maybe the whole industry, will struggle to recover from this – particularly after they were so wrong about the General Election last year.

The next group of losers are the Labour Party.  ‎This result confirms what Scotland has been telling us for a while: that - London apart - the Party's ability to read its 'natural' supporters, let alone lead them, has corroded almost to the point of non-existence.  And no matter what they say about each other, and no matter how many people call for Corbyn to go, this is not just about New Labour vs the Corbynistas. The Party as a whole is in a deep crisis, and is reaping what has been sowed over many years of neglect and complacency.

Another group of losers are the European elite. Their vision has been rejected, and their project is in real danger: already Geert ‎Wilders is calling for a referendum in the Netherlands, and who's to say Denmark, and even France, won't follow? The EU could fall apart. It may change substantially. Ironically one way forward might be for it to evolve eventually into a free trade bloc again, and that may in the end make it possible for us to stay in. Who knows?

By far the biggest losers, of course, are the British public. All of us. I am (still!) a Remainer, so of course I think that over the long-term we are worse off out. But the long-term ‎is unpredictable and I am an optimist: we may actually stay in a hugely changed EU, as I say, but even on our own we will surely find a way to survive and thrive. The short-term, though, is a different story.

No one knows what will happen now, this week, next week, least of all the Brexiteers, already arguing about whether to invoke Article 50 now or later (although Cameron may now have put that argument to bed), whether we are Norway or Canada, whether even the vote means we leave or just negotiate harder and better and stay in after all. And it is uncertainty that will stop the deal flow, delay the investment, persuade foreign companies to look elsewhere, and knock lumps out of our economic performance. The markets are all over the place this morning, and the rest of 2016 and into 2017 may well be bloody.  Frankly we just don’t need it.

All of this is for next week and beyond. Right now, today, the greatest challenges are in Downing Street and the wider Conservative Party.  ‎It was always hard to see how Cameron could carry on, despite the wishes of his MPs, and despite the lack of a plausible alternative. And so it has proved.  The leadership election has begun; even as it continues Cameron needs to decide what relationship to have with Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove – and for that matter George Osborne. A plan is needed. The next few days will be critical.  All we can be certain about is that there will be more shocks.

Stephen Byfield

Stephen Byfield about the author…

Stephen has over 25 years experience of complicated communications issues and loves to work on the trickiest and knottiest of client accounts. Stephen founded PPS Group and ran the firm for 26 years before it was acquired by Newgate in 2015.

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