J.J. Patrick: A 15-step portrait of the Brexit fallout Leave voters didn't see coming

In the second instalment of a three-part series on Brexit, author J.J. Patrick imagines how Brexit could go very wrong for those living in England

YOU may call this a dystopian vision if you like, but it’s a logical step progression based on probability risk. The interactions at each stage will feed the next and so on.

The reason I’m setting this out is simply this: not once have any of the politicians debating or leading on the disastrous display of demockery in parliament shown consideration for anything other than themselves and a lurid daydream of jam. 

Read part one of J.J. Patrick’s Brexit series – Brexit and the undeclared data war driving rightwing campaigns

This dose of reality with the jingo removed is expanded from a Twitter thread which went uexpectedly viral.

1. The UK begins to break up

The UK will not exist in a couple of years. At best, only England and Wales will be joined. Scotland and Northern Ireland will be gone.

Scotland swiftly moves through an independence referendum with a 60 per cent Yes vote and moves to separate, but Westminster blocks the call and attempts to repatriate devolved powers. (May has threatened this in her Brexit speech). Faced with no option, Scotland uses the nuclear option and makes a unilateral declaration of independence. 

Ireland holds a reunification referendum which wins on a slim margin, largelyarising from the economic and security risks of a hard border outweighing the need to preserve a union with an increasingly aggressive Westminster. 

The EU supports both moves and allows special case applications due to the increasing destabilisation efforts of Russia and the US.

2. Imports are hit

England and Wales are then left import-reliant on fuels, food, and other goods, but favourable EU trade terms and parity gains are also gone.

Gas and oil, post Brexit, have to be bought in at WTO or less than WTO terms, along with vegetables and meat, and other consumables/manufacturing neccessities. With farm subsidies collapsed, self-sufficiency in England and Wales evaporates. 

Years of gains in purchasing parity through the EU are reversed and the import market is overwhelmed by increasing financial demands. Demand begins to outstrip supply on even basic items. The tax revenue begins a steep decline as spending then plummets due to lack of goods.

3. Exports are toast

The export market is toast, as gains in currency devaluation are killed by a lack of resource without import. Unemployment rises with costs.

The incapability of the pound to recover, combined with unfavourable import terms and reduced supply chains, reduces the ability of exporters to create goods in the first place.

Exporters are further wounded by the increase in administrative burdens of leaving the bulk market of the EU, and having to deal with each member state on individual terms.

Cost savings begin with the most disposable asset of all: human resources. Tax revenues drop further and the government reaches an unsurmountable level of public debt. There is nothing left to borrow.

4. The housing market is paralysed

Internally, inflation kills the housing and retail market and poverty levels spike out of control - without the ability to provide welfare.

Inflation begins to spiral as additional costs are passed on, increasing as the field of supply narrows and costs must be recouped wherever possible. The retail market is reduced to one or two large chains with empty shelves and limited stocks of household goods in the wake of constant panic buying. 

The housing market stalls, with no one seeking to sell or buy and further revenue is lost. Mortgage rates begin to spike as banks panic. Job losses combined with inflation send over half the population into breadline living or below. 

With no budgetary room and restrictions on welfare applications, the welfare system collapses, leaving millions in poverty.

5. Industries ditch what’s left of the UK

The service sector departs for the EU, executing the only healthy section of the economy while decreasing the largest available tax revenues.

With clearing and compliance functions already departed, taking a portion of the city and its tax revenue in the early stages of Brexit, the banks take a view on the risk of staying in London and activate their established exit plans. 

The largest contributory sector to income tax revenue withdraws and the government budget status becomes bankrupt. The economy has relied on the service sector for many years and it fails, the banks taking the bulk, while tourism and leisure spending have also died. The economy plummets into negative growth.

6. Millions become unemployed as the government runs out of money

Foreign companies which have propped up manufacture/infrastructure withdraw due to the impact of trade tariffs and the economy/employment crashes.

Nuclear projects, infrastructure projects, train franchises, and car manufacturers withdraw from the UK despite the notionary deals with the government, as the financial incentives have become impossible to deliver. 

The state cannot prop or replace these initiatives and profit warnings prevent new investment. The transport networks freeze and the large maunfacturing plants are closed and asset stripped. Millions become unemployed.

Revenues plummet to near zero and the government has no money to spend. Brownouts increase in frequency and no further resources can be bought in.

7. The NHS collapses

Any government is now trapped, unable to spend without revenue, and the downward spiral accelerates. The NHS, education and policing collapse.

Parties no longer matter. There is nothing Westminster can provide. The public services can no longer be funded and wages cannot be paid. Staff are left with no option but self-preservation and services scale back first to limited service, then no service. 

The police are asked to maintain order on good will, which swiftly fails as none exists. Riots and looting are commonplace for a brief period. The military collapses and some regiments defer to the EU where an active Russian front has developed to the east.

8. England is sold off

Foreign companies seize the opportunity and asset strip England, while the government takes the sole option of tax haven creation. This relies on further deregulation of employment and human rights. What employment there is left is low wage, short or zero terms.

There is nothing for investors to sink money into as there are no likely revenue returns, so the physical assets are sold off. Equipment, cars, buildings. Houses. 

The government generates nominal funds and now has nothing left. It attempts to provide a zero tax environment and deregulate employment rights and human rights. This generates limited employment, stripping real assets, and only for the duration of the purchasing/disposal period.

9. Homelessness rockets as housing collapses

The population now can't afford to move as the housing market has collapsed, credit has died, and foreign hands control rental markets.

No loans are available as the banks have become unviable and incomes/property ownership no longer account for borrowing risks. House prices have slipped back to 1980s levels and the market is stagnant. 

Foreign investors have purchased all empty and foreclosed housing stock and provide rental options at inflationary rates. Both housing markets collapse and homelessness peaks.

10. Food is dwindling and workers are struggling

Migrant labour cannot pick up the slack, so local communities die at an accelerated rate without investment and travelling revenue.

Town and village high streets close. Travelling construction and farm labour no longer exists. Food rots in the fields where farmers have been resilitient enough to keep working.

Dairy and meat stocks are dwindling.

11. Local community services collapse completely

Devolved budget councils fail to collect revenue due to the collapsing national and local economy and infrastructure crumbles.

Initially, councils raised rates but the collapse in employment leaves these demands unsettled. All residual infrastructure and amenity spending collapses, along with related employment. Including highways.

12. Wales jumps ship

The spiral, at this point, becomes irreversible and Wales seeks union elsewhere, to save itself. The English economy is decimated.

Wales, initially a Leave vote, first resisted a referendum, then was rebutted by Westminster. In desparation it makes a declaration of independence which isn’t recognised internationally, and aligns itself with Ireland or Scotland in a proposed union. Initially, the costs are dismissed but a humanitarian crisis prompts action.

13. The lights go out

Gas and petrol become a daydream, commuting for work fails. Local economies cease to viably exist. Power blacks out.

England is left alone to die.

14. Life expectancy falls dramatically and the population begins declining

Disease becomes commonplace among the young and old, and the age of death reduces significantly. The population contracts.

Without health service provisions, those with pre-existing conditions die in vast numbers, followed by unvaccinated children and the elderly every flu season. Even the Red Cross and Red Crescent are unable to provide sufficient aid. 

Commonly prevented diseases such as Polio and Tuberculosis spread wildly. Without heating and health services, millions die each winter, and the national average age of death contracts into the 40s for men and 50s for women.

15. Europe says no

At this point, the once sick man of Europe is now dying and it returns, cap in hand.

But Europe, after war with Russia, turns its back.

The last act of the remaining government is to turn to the EU for help, asking to return. As Westminster was responsible for wholesale desabilisation of the bloc, and attempted to side with a corrupted US despot while Russia’s advance on the Eastern EU states was rebuffed with military action, the request is refused point blank. Those who can begin to attempt to enter the EU via the channel, as refugees.

This is the short-hand of what Brexit really might mean. Sweet dreams.

Picture courtesy of fernando butcher

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Wed, 02/15/2017 - 17:58

PMSL. Scaremongering much?

Hmm- so UDI for Scotland... in order to avoid the "unforseen" negative impact of Brexit.

Do you think there might be unforseen, or forseen negative impacts of UDI?

No currency, no central bank, no trade agreements, no DVLA, Tax offices, Benefits systems or 1000 other un-costed services, no £14 Billion union dividend from Barnett , no credit rating, capital flight.

Not even anywhere to process or store the Nuclear waste Scotland produces.

... unless I have misread this and you are arguing against independence? - after all, going by your domino effect of probabilities, ruling our the butterfly wings of a UDI which you admit would harm Scotland's biggest trading partner would be in Scotland's best interests.

So, Essentially just like the impact of a hard brexit, but with a market worth 4 times as much *slow claps*


Wed, 02/15/2017 - 19:10

Nothing like a) having an open mind and b) understanding that a probability risk scenario is just thoughtfood. Because if you are living in a world of Jam and jingo, you'll wear more surprises than if you think about potential consequences first. Cheers though.

Arthur Blue's picture

Arthur Blue

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 22:00

Doesn't need all these scenarios to happen for the UK to be in serious trouble … just one or two of them, and such things exacerbate each other. Problem is - and it also applies to Leavers who would welcome the EU getting into difficulties - that however uncongenial you find your neighbour it is unwise to rejoice at the prospect of his house catching fire, as sparks tend to fly further than expected.


Thu, 02/16/2017 - 06:07

That's the point, only one or two of the steps need to complete and it's already Chaos. I've taken no pleasure at all in thinking of this scenario, nor in writing it. What horrifies me is that lack of thought of consequence.


Thu, 02/16/2017 - 18:53

This scenario is OTT but not by all that much. England will sell all of our assets and those of all other parts of this United Kingdom to keep London's bankers inside the financial bubble. Everything else is considered secondary.


Fri, 02/17/2017 - 09:09

It's definitely designed to be an extreme by its nature. But even looking at simple things, there's a housing market early warning in the guardian today, and industry warnings from Vauxhall. It's no great stretch, unfortunately.


Sat, 02/18/2017 - 15:38

Dystopian is putting it mildly. Certainly, when we cut the ties that bind us to the Union, the English economy will get a rude shock. Their export market will contract without Scottish goods, No more will they be able to take Scottish goods and defile them with a UK stamp. Their credit rating is bound to suffer and with it borrowing powers. I can see them having to restructure their economic model and become a tax haven for the elite. How far down that takes them is anybody's guess, but for sure they will regret having taken us for granted for so long.


Wed, 03/08/2017 - 13:53

This is very much the way I see things going, but not just me. Your scenario is little different from one of the Leave campaign briefings from before the referendum;


This cannot be accused of "scaremongering" since it is from the Leave campaign, yet it demonstrates the consequences of a hard Brexit, including very high unemployment. Only their scenario is based on a hard brexit not simply falling out of the EU, which is worse. So I think your piece is fully justifiable.

The only not of disagreement I might have would be at the end, I think the EU27 might well have us back but only on their terms; joining the €, Schengen, no budget rebate, a 50+ year moratorium on leaving and a 66.6% threshold in any further referendum.


Sun, 03/12/2017 - 08:52

I do see this scenario as harsh, yet others have commented on the thing that Mrs Mayhem does not understand - systemic thinking - only a few elements of the scenario need to happen for other elements to come to pass.

At the same time you have been able to generate this scenario precisely because there is a complete void of planning from our Government. They simply have not explained their vision of a world post Brexit that is better than the one we have now. I seriously think that Theresa May must have self harmed as a child due to a lack of love and affection from her upbringing and this is some kind of strange psychotic reaction to her experience.


Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:25

Within all of these steps, you could put a % against how far the scenario is developed. E.g., we all know the NHS has been systematically starved, and is now struggling badly, it can't be long before American companies are brought in to start serious privatisation.

Exports are at a really low base to start. England has a trade deficit and that can't be improved in the impending financial meltdown. In retail, consumer spending has slowed right down now, always an important indicator.

Nissan already hedging their bets, despite an alleged financial deal. Industry has finally got down to doing the sums on implications of WTO trading terms, supply chains, and they are rightly scared.

This is worst case scenarios, so it's a matter of degree, as to how hard they hit, but they will. Look at a basic like state pension, messed about, because they can't pay out. The UK is on the very brink of bankruptcy, and Brexit is the crumbling edge.

If we vote No a second time, Scotland is the last shiny bauble that Tories have to strip and sell off. Everything that gives us a trade surplus.

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