It’s enough to make any professional project manager’s skin crawl. The United Kingdom’s pending exit from the European Union – the biggest shakeup in Western statecraft since the fall of the Soviet Union – appears to be proceeding essentially without a plan.
David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, is stepping down before October. He’s said he won’t trigger Article 50 – the EU’s method for a member state resigning – in the near future; that’s up to his successor. And even when (or if) Article 50 is invoked, no one quite knows exactly how the “Brexit” itself will work – the rule has never been used.
So, theoretically, what could Brexit look like? We took a look at what led up to the “Leave” campaign’s referendum victory, expert analysis and Article 50 itself, then used Microsoft Excel and OnePager plan communications software to craft a visual representation of a hypothetical scenario (click on the image to enlarge).
In our Brexit plan, a new (yet to be named) Prime Minister triggers Article 50 on Oct. 1, 2016. This sets ticking a two-year clock for a formal severing of ties, including negotiations on the withdrawal itself and a new trade deal. Once struck, final deals are approved by the EU and UK parliaments in 2018.
Could it happen this way in real life? Our hypothetical plan is optimistic, but it’s absolutely a possibility. Of course, things could swing wildly in the other direction, with the UK and EU unable to find common ground. Or Brexit might not happen at all. After such a momentous (and unexpected) event, anything is a possibility.