The (un)known unknown: The chequered path to Brexit

Nick Gold
Freezing Fog Descends Across The UK
A lot of people don't know what lies ahead (Source: Getty)

I never in a million years thought I would be quoting the former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld who, in 2002, infamously said: ‘There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

"But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult one."

At the time, this was one of the most confusing statements I had ever heard, and yet, 15 years down the line, this seems to summarise Brexit.

Finally, with the triggering of Article 50, at least we have moved the dial slightly from the ‘unknown unknown’ to the ‘known unknown’, we are now firmly leaving and so we now know the unknowns. From my perspective, it's almost a relief that we can now focus on feeling frustrated/delighted/irritated/despairing/ecstatic (delete as applicable) about the negotiations and hopefully tangible outcomes will result.

I crave some certainty and understanding of what this momentous decision actually means, so I can start planning on various scenarios based on actual outcomes of negotiations rather than scenario-planning which seems to have been, up to this point, based on infinite moving parts.

My hope at this stage is that the people spearheading the negotiations start understanding that while they are involved in a game of poker with continual bluffing and double bluffing, this is actually diametrically opposite to what I think is required.

Certainty is the name of the game, if we don’t achieve ‘the best deal’ this is still a matter of subjectivity as there will be no clear consensus about what is the definition of best.

So, let’s stop this political game and ask for the focus to be on tangible results which allow people to move forward with their lives in this post-Brexit world.

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