Brexit – Blame Schrödinger

Throughout the Brexit debacle, we’ve been consistent on our view of the outcome. The only feasible outcome, and therefore most likely, seems to us to be extend, revoke and revote – resulting in a second referendum. We’re still amazed that this is not consensus – indeed we can find no one with our confidence of this outcome.

But why has this been so hard to achieve? Why do so few of the British people understand the challenges, after over 2 yrs of discussion? How can politicians still fail to find even a compromise worthy of the word “deal”?

In this post, we blame a cat and a chap called Schrödinger.

Schrödinger’s cat

Most will probably have heard of this famous thought experiment by an Austrian Quantum physicist. Few will probably understand it. It’s complicated, like most paradoxes.

Here’s the wiki explanation.

Schrödinger’s cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

If you’re still with us, we actually prefer this simpler, albeit simplified explanation.

  • After one hour in the experimental box, Schrödinger’s cat stands a 50% chance of being dead, and 50% chance of being alive
  • But, while the cat is in the box, it is both dead AND alive simultaneously (Copenhagen Interpretation)
  • Schrödinger’s cat experiment was hypothetically used to show Schrödinger’s disagreed with the Copenhagen Interpretation for larger objects, like a cat!


Ok, so you’re asking, why have we bent our minds out of shape with this paradox that we’ve all heard of but still don’t quite get? If you need a nap, by all means take one.

Well in our opinion, it sums up Brexit – which was both alive (in the eyes of the ayes) and dead (in the other reality) all along.

The “meaningful conclusion” (as everything has to be “meaningful” these days) was that it’s always been too hard for the general public to understand, too complex to solve, and in the end, a true paradox, provided we don’t break the rules.

Little wonder that no one has been able to untangle this mess.

Cats cradle

Just like the child’s game with a piece of string, Brexit has become ever more tangled – a true cats cradle – and the path to any form of solution has become narrower and narrower. This has frustrated many, confused most, and led some to consider protest, perhaps even civil disturbance, in order to reach their desired solution.

So the choices that we see hardening and narrowing, will not be the ones the majority would prefer.

In our opinion, this path now leads to one solution, and one non-solution – or put simply, life or death.

Revote, or go over the cliff edge.

Catch as catch can.

We feel the cat is best saved by taking another judgement on Brexit – while few understand the options, trade models and actual workings of backstops etc, even after 2+ years of staring at it, at least the reality has set in. This is going to be complicated to make happen, whichever route to Brexit is taken.

Therefore we anticipate that, once a second referendum is adopted, preferably because those “nasty vindictive Europeans” demanded it, the vote will likely sneak towards staying.

We noted here that the “people’s decision” was actually only adopted by about 25% of the “people”. If you agree that many of those ineligible should have had the right to choose too, then this approx 25% is hardly a majority.

But eligibility is important, and a better rationale is simply that there were many couch potatoes that thought “this is already won – why bother to go and vote – now where’s my Xbox controller”.

This number of eligible, but couched voters numbered 12.9 million. Which means Leave won with less than 40% of the eligible vote. 28% didn’t get off the couch.

This is enough to easily swing a second vote, given the incentive to vote is a little clearer this time.

So, while we don’t predict a remain result in Ref2, this is our sense.


We have settled upon 90% chance of Ref2 and 10% chance of a no deal crash out at some “deadline” time – currently April 12th but don’t be surprise if that also settles on May 22nd.

While many Leavers have rightly described “crashing out” (NDC) as just scare tactics, not one has explained what WILL happen on the day after. To simply dismiss trade issues as WTO terms, to dismiss the logistics of continuing to trade with EU counties in essentials like food, medicine and energy as “no problem” is naivety.

We ourselves have dismissed the immediate danger of catastrophe, as here.

But we also don’t know for certain and would rather not know the exact depth of fall once happily over the cliff. Thelma and Louise is NOT our favorite movie.

Cat calling

Part of the problem with informing and educating the general public on Brexit, has been the vicious, tribal political structure that was responsible for the project. This is a basic flaw in how our democracy works, and should be heeded for future “cats”.

If only a bipartisan, independent body had been set up by Parliament at the outset, the path to this paradox would have at least been less unpleasant.

But it would have still been ended up in the same place.

Again, the lesson of Schrödinger is apt. His thought experiment was designed to take a claw-exposed swipe at the established belief within the Quantum physics community regarding “superposition of matter”.

This argument was no less vicious as the Brexit debate. But of course, the demonstrations by “dead and alive” proponents were largely unreported by the media at the time and certainly didn’t bring London traffic to a standstill.

But it was no less passionate a debate.

Breaking the (box) rules

Those with a heart, and a love of cats, would always opt to break open the box and rescue the (alive in their view of reality) cat.

The same is true of the Brexit cat. Indeed, it’s possible the rules of the experiment will indeed be broken. Perhaps going over the NDC cliff is the best example of breaking the rules and rescuing Brexit. This is the motivation of the (more sane) proponents of crashing out. They’re really (Brexit) cat lovers.

Dead and alive at the same time.

To sum up, Brexit is another example of Schrödinger’s cat paradox. It’s been both alive and dead at the same time, depending upon the individual’s belief. In reality the paradox is insolvable, as we’ve suggested throughout our writings.

But it’s been impossible for the general public to understand that – they see what they want to see – a cat alive or dead. And their political masters, the politicians and journalists and economists, like their quantum physicist equivalents, have simply stated that fact – they too are unable to decide whether Brexit is alive or dead because in truth it’s always been both.

The conclusion is simple. Unless we break the rules, breaking the box and setting the “alive” version of the cat free, Brexit is doomed to remain in this perfectly paradoxical stasis forever.

For even, as we foresee, the second referendum arrives and the vote goes (marginally) against Leaving, another vote will become inevitable. It may take 2 years, it may take 5. But another Brexit vote will appear on the horizon.

Brexit will always be both alive AND dead at the same time.

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