The first losers are pollsters and strategists, but the biggest losers are the British public

PRWeek EU Referendum Panel: I am in shock, writes pro-EU PR boss Gavin Devine, at a result that has lots of losers.

The first losers are pollsters and strategists, but the biggest losers are the British public

I am in shock. I can't pretend I'm not. I knew it was going to be close, but the polls all said 'remain', the betting markets said 'remain' and the financial markets said 'remain'. Common sense said 'remain'. Turns out we were all deluding ourselves.

The first losers of this ‎referendum are the pollsters and the strategists. Not only has their methodology been found wanting yet again, but their assumptions have too. Last night proves that a high turnout was not to the advantage of 'remain', not when the turnout reflects an outpouring of anger and alienation. Some reputations will struggle to recover from this.

The next group of losers are the Labour Party. ‎This result confirms what Scotland has been telling us for a while; that – London apart – the party's ability to read its 'natural' supporters, let alone lead them, has corroded almost to the point of non-existence. And this is not just about New Labour vs the Corbynistas. The party as a whole is in a deep crisis.

Another group of losers are the European elite. Their vision has been rejected, and their project is in real danger: already Geert ‎Wilders is calling for a referendum in the Netherlands, and who's to say Denmark, and even France, won't follow. The EU could fall apart. Equally it may change substantially. Ironically it may eventually evolve into a free trade bloc again, and that may in the end make it possible for us to stay in. Who knows?

By far the biggest losers, of course, are the British public. All of us. I am (still!) a Remainer, so of course I think that over the long term we are worse off out. But the long term ‎is unpredictable and I am an optimist: we may actually stay in a hugely changed EU, as I say, but even on our own we will surely find a way to survive and thrive. The short-term, though, is a different story.

Nobody knows what will happen now, this week, next week, least of all the Brexiteers, already arguing about whether to invoke Article 50 now or later, whether we are Norway or Canada, whether even the vote means we leave or just negotiate harder and better and stay in after all. And it is uncertainty that will stop the deal flow, delay the investment, persuade foreign companies to look elsewhere, and knock lumps out of our economic performance. 2016 and 2017 may well be bloody, which frankly we could all do without.

All of this is for next week and beyond. Right now, today, the greatest challenges are in Downing Street and the wider Conservative Party. ‎It is hard to see how David Cameron can carry on, despite the wishes of his MPs, and despite the lack of a plausible alternative. But he might. Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsome, Michael Gove and others need to be brought formally into Government. A plan is needed. The next 48 hours will be critical. Expect more shocks.

Gavin Devine is COO of Porta Communications and managing partner of Newgate Communications. He is pro-'remain'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in