As I despatched my 100th blog, in the news vacuum of June 23rd, little did I know that my next century would start with an historic event which will lead us to question many aspects of our social, political, business, legal and economic life.
I set sail for Europe on the 25th so didn’t feel the vibe in the country which I heard as “what have we done?” combined with “what the heck have YOU done?”
I had written to friends that I hoped we would vote to remain because otherwise I’d be rather unwelcome on the Continent that we have rejected. But on arrival in Dunkirk, meeting my friend’s French friend we were congratulated on the vote. “We knew that Britain would be first now we can leave too”.
But to those who are aghast at the prospect of severing ties with Europe I offer this: we are still 22 miles from the continental land mass. And apart from having my credit card refused in the marinas because I “don’t have [a] Visa” the welcome has been as friendly as ever. We will continue to trade with Europe and to communicate in the same dislocated way that we have always done. For while the change seems momentous now I suspect that when enacted it won’t be. I have listened to many executives fed up with the company they work for, or parent company of which they are a part, and vow to leave by resignation or MBO. Many wake up the next day and realise that in the cold light of day there isn’t much that they can do differently even though they would like to, because the world is too big, and too complex, to enable significant change by any individual entity. The only splits that have really worked are those such as the de-merger of ICI when pharmaceuticals/bio sciences and traditional chemicals were both enabled to concentrate on what they’re good at.
Brexit could, if managed properly, enable us to be concentrate on what we’re good at. Freed from constraints of the out of touch bureaucracy in Brussels that couldn’t, or wouldn’t see what Cameron needed to maintain our membership of their impractical club, we have no excuse now for being the best that we can be. My version of best is an innovative, open-minded trading nation that respects all cultures and maintains freedom; even when freedom means you don’t get your own way and the immediate future has been made uncertain by those with a desire to feel more in control of their futures. Those who wanted to stay should work to maintain these values that could be overcome by extremism if they take defeat as a sign to be silent.
We may have to do things differently. For example we may need to set up European subsidiaries to enable inventions to be accepted in the EU but we used to do that sort of thing regularly and in the intervening years the cost of flying to Amsterdam to setup a company has fallen significantly. It may go up a bit but if we really do reduce unnecessary regulation and improve trade deals with non EU nations then we could keep the innovators who have prospered here in recent years and prosper as never before.
Because if we don’t who can we blame, now that the French, Germans and Brussels oligarchy are not our masters? The weather? How very British.