Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Project Fear Is over, Now We Need Project Hope to Take Us Forward

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Project Fear Is over, Now We Need Project Hope to Take Us Forward

Article excerpt

Byline: Helena Morrissey

WRITING in this paper three months ago I urged -- in vain, as it turned out -- a calmer approach to the referendum debate. Outlandish claims on both sides coupled with bad-tempered exchanges made for a dispiriting build-up to the vote and certainly haven't helped in the immediate aftermath. It's impossible for senior Remain campaigners within government to argue convincingly that all will be well given their earlier prophecies of doom if Leave prevailed. While a Leave outcome creates near term uncertainty, aggressive scaremongering was a campaigning tactic that now leaves many people feeling more worried than they need be. In reality, both outcomes carried risk. A Remain result would have left us tied to an EU refusing to reform seriously despite facing a long-running "crisis of economic competitiveness" (David Cameron's own words). And it's hard to imagine the Conservatives would have settled back to business as usual after discrediting the party's Leave campaigners. But we should not extrapolate this week's emotional reactions and initial financial market panic into the future. These kneejerk responses reflect both the current inevitable uncertainty and a significant mispricing of risk heading into referendum day.

I remain confident that the UK will not just survive but thrive outside the EU, depending of course on the progress we make from here. The calm, thoughtful approach missing from the campaign is now necessary. And whichever way each of us voted, we have a shared interest in making the best of the outcome. There is real opportunity in the possibility -- not yet a reality -- of more control over our destiny. Democratic accountability is a great prize and a great responsibility. While the political fallout persists, business leaders must help set out a constructive way forwards. …

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