A Post-Brexit Information Society: Recognising Realities and Finding Futures

A paper exploring scenarios for Information Society policy and electronic communications regualtion in a post-Brexit Britain. This paper was presented at a Foundation for Information Society Policy seminar on 14th September 2016.

“Brexit means Brexit”, says the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, but it remains unclear what the UK’s relationship with the EU will be after Brexit. Whilst Information Society policy may not be at the forefront of Brexit negotiations, the terms of Brexit are likely to have implications for Information Society policy and for the regulation of electronic communications in the UK. The new PM has also indicated that her government is minded to be more interventionist in the economy than her predecessor’s: even appointing a Secretary of State for Industrial Strategy.


So we have a government that is very likely to take the UK out of the EU and is apparently keener to be involved in the market. Both these moves could have significant effects on Information Society policy and regulation, depending on what form Brexit takes and how more interventionist the government actually becomes.


As we do not know what Brexit means and the government has not yet had time for its industrial strategy to become visible, how are we to plan for future policy and regulation?


This paper does not attempt to predict the future. Instead, it considers four possible scenarios for a post-Brexit Britain with a more or less interventionist minded government. The scenarios range from something close to business as usual to one where the UK is fully detached from the EU and has an activist government. The paper then examines the possible effects of each scenario on three specific areas of Information Society policy:


  • Infrastructure investment and innovation;

  • Inclusion and engagement; and

  • Trust