Neither. It’s going to be Britain’s lost decade of mismanaged decline.
The economy will remain sluggish and will be outperformed by other European countries. Pre-referendum forecasts of 2–3% annual growth have now been replaced by forecasts of less than 2%. A chaotic or disruptive exit from the EU may translate into zero growth or a short recession. Poor growth will put a strain on public finances.
For voters, Brexit means an ongoing squeeze on wages, more years of austerity and a strain on public services. Austerity began after the 2008–9 financial crisis. With Brexit bearing down on the economy in the coming years, austerity will be a fact of life until at least the mid 2020s, nearly 20 years after the banking crisis.
Brexit means a long term decline in public standards and dysfunctional government by crisis management. Collective cabinet responsibility has been all but abandoned and will remain that way all the while Brexit remains a live issue.
Without a single voice, purpose or agreed policies, the government will continue to drift from one issue to the next. Problems will be dealt as they arise, usually with rushed and botched legislation and an expensive financial solution. With time and public money being devoted to Brexit at the expense of much else, there will be a continued strain on government resources leaving other pressing public matters of secondary importance or concern. Brexit will continue to combine austerity with government mismanagement and public services will suffer, often crowded out by the periodic political drama.
Social anxiety and uncertainty will continue for years. Politics will be polarised with Labour and Conservatives dominating the party system. With Brexit taking its toll on the economy and its supporters driven by ideology, there will be plenty of anger and blame to go round. There is going to be years of newspapers demonising perceived enemies, online social abuse, ministerial harassment and voter anxiety.
Brexit will the UK’s legal, economic, social and political equivalent of Chernobyl. A managed and toxic problem passed on from one generation to the next.