By popular mandate, the UK has decided to leave the EU.
Millions of words both spoken and written have been expended on the rights and wrongs, and the implications of this seismic change in the political landscape.
However, now the decision has been made, it is up to all parties involved, both here in the UK, and in the remainder of the EU, to deal with that decision.
Unfortunately this is now where the real conflict begins. Politics and economics rarely mix well, and when an overtly political decision has economic consequences who should navigate the ship, that is the UK, through these troubled waters?
Politics has not only served, on this occasion, to divide the UK in two mathematically, and in three geographically, but also to create rancour, ill feeling, and fear within the rest of the EU. Our former colleagues cannot be seen to let the UK cherry pick its requirements, and there is a distinct feeling that there is a real drive in Europe to make an example of the UK, if only to act as a warning to others thinking of breaking ranks.
We want our tariff free trade to continue, and yet we do not want free movement of labour ( as a lawyer, I always see free movement of labour as substantially different than free movement of people ). What do the population of the UK want? They think they are gaining a migrant free country, with strong effective border controls, greater prosperity (having been freed from the bureaucracy of Brussels), an opportunity to increase growth, a well funded NHS, and more real jobs for the marginalised regions, outside the cities of London, Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool.
At the moment, if Article 50 is invoked, there will be 2 years to negotiate a retreat. At the moment the desire to negotiate is weak from the EU, whilst the desire to confront is strong.
Confrontation is akin to litigation with a winner takes all mentality pervading. Negotiation is the sister of mediation, and one thing is certain, that whilst mediation is a compromise, this has the habit of both sides feeling frustrated by the concessions made.
Negotiation and mediation rarely satisfy anyone. A case in point, is made clear by the current status of Canada and its still running, (7 years and counting), negotiations with the EU to obtain the kind of trade deal we would like to be in place by the time of the UK’s exit.
The descent back into rhetoric and political posturing must be avoided at all costs. It is with some concern that having voted to leave, that there does not appear to be a strategy, policy, or even team primed to argue the changes, maintain the trade agreements, and enforce the will of the people (whatever that was).
On the Monday 27th June when a packed House of Commons reconvened, the 2 principal establishment architects for leave were notable by their absence. I refer to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
This alarms me, if only for the fact that this was a founding moment for the brave new world, when the potential architects of our departure need to be facing the House, and defining the strategy of negotiation and the requirements of the leave campaign in representing the will of the people.
There is now a political vacuum in the UK, and constitutionally it is now when lawyers need to step forward and provide expeditious routes to renegotiation, if necessary by conciliating and mediating issues to try and make the economic and business pathways as seamless as possible.
Politicians have shown no will or direction, so far, on either side to implement a free trade agreement that reflects the status quo and protects the businesses that depend on the current economic arrangements with our neighbours.
I believe that within a few weeks urgency will be injected into the process, as volatility continues to unsettle markets. The legal process is there to be used and used with tact and neutrality to negotiate and protect trade positions.
I then await the new manifestos of the 2 leading political parties with interest, as we move from confrontation to protection. It may well end up as predicted at the outset, that by negotiation we are left with no option but to follow the example of Norway, and concede fundamental key issues simply to avoid more unpleasant consequences of a vindictive European bureaucracy.
This is a time for trained negotiators, namely lawyers to become involved and to disentangle reality from the politics of confrontation.
I do not believe that any of the main characters fronting either campaign will emerge as leaders in the forthcoming weeks.
A strong political figure, with a proven track record will need to be elected as a replacement to David Cameron, and he or she needs to arm themselves with the best negotiators the country can provide.