Britain held a referendum on EU membership in 2016, Leave won, some other stuff happened, there was and is load of a drama and the UK is possible maybe who knows perhaps due to leave in March of next year, with future arrangements still very much up in the air.
The consensus appears to be that the whole affair—from the bottom-of-the-barrel campaigning from both sides during the referendum to the vote of confidence against the Prime Minister after she offered a disappointing but EU-approved deal to Parliament last week—has been a bit of a shambles.
What I don't understand though, is why the UK and the EU found themselves in a position where they had only couple of vague lines (Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)) to go on when beginning to work out their post-Brexit arrangements. The TEU has been in force since 2009, and the UK has had a turbulent relationship with the EU (and its antecedents) since the 1970s, so surely somebody could have seen this coming and planned appropriately?
Rather than waiting until the UK had already decided to leave, running the risk of having burnt some bridges, being made an example of and having to bargain from a weakened position, why did the UK not introduce any sort of contingency plans over the past 9–46 years, when the going was good?
Whether these would have been unilateral deals with individual countries (EU members or otherwise) that would take effect in the event of loss of EU membership, like this one the UK signed the other day with Switzerland, or even deals in place with the EU has a whole, it seems like a very obvious move to make that nobody seems to have.
They say you should ‘hope for the best, but plan for the worst’, so why doesn't Britain seem to have done any such planning pre-2016?