I wasn’t going to write anything about our decision to leave the EU as I figured that, by the time you read this article, you would have already overdosed on the subject’ and quite frankly there are people writing for this magazine who are far better qualified to give their opinions on the effect it will have on our industry. But then my son said to me a few days ago how us older folk had really dropped the younger generation in it. Then I replied that he shouldn’t talk to me like that as I was old enough to be his father. Then he reminded me that, actually, I was his father.
It got me thinking though; and I must confess at this point that, because I could not make up my mind either way, I did not actually vote in the referendum. This was in spite of the fact that we had always encouraged our children to ‘exercise their franchise’, on the basis that previous generations had suffered to secure for them this precious right.
There was something peculiarly British about this whole event. For a start we had to have a suitable shorthand buzz-word, so we created a catchy portmanteau word by combining ‘British’ with ‘exit’ and came up with Brexit – and we even gave it its own capital letter to make it seem more important. Why we didn’t go the whole hog and include an exclamation mark I really don’t know, but anyway we ended up with something that sounded more like a breakfast cereal.
Snappy catchphrase: Look after yourself, start the day with a Brexit and exercise your franchise!
To my mind this was part of the problem: because people had a buzz word, they really did not seem to bother with the opposing arguments. Therefore the referendum almost became a series of protest votes covering a diverse range of grievances such as immigration, the government, the rubbish dumped on the local cricket pitch (now you’re talking) and so on. Instead of, for example, somebody asking what was your opinion on the possibility of the government being able to counter the potential problems caused by a rapidly declining pound they would instead ask:
"What do you think of Brexit?"
"Well it’s great with dried apricots – oops, sorry my mistake. I meant I don’t agree with it."
"What don’t you agree with?"
I don’t want to trivialise what obviously is a very important issue for the whole country and I don’t want to appear flippant - even though that is perhaps my writing brief – but let me give you another example of how this momentous issue was decided upon. The other day I actually heard somebody say that: if they had realised what the outcome of the referendum was going to be, they wouldn’t have voted to come out!
So the die has been cast and by the time that you read this article we will all have a better idea as to what the real effects of coming out of the EU are likely to be. My own opinion is that maybe it won’t be as bad as we thought (or if this turns out to be entirely wrong then this was just a joke). As a nation we have always championed the underdog and maybe we thought it would make a change to actually be one. It’s possible, at times, to gain the impression that Dunkirk was great fun, when in fact it was one of our worst defeats.
Anyway, in the end, I said to my son that I was sorry that the result was not to his liking. There is no doubt that it will create serious problems for his company and I still have mixed feelings myself, but we have no choice but to get on with it and we have no choice but to try to make it work. Ostensibly there should be every advantage in remaining part of a larger market entity, and certainly the laws relating to economies of scale have not yet been repealed. I am actually writing this article whilst on holiday in the sun (get a life!) and it does occur to me that maybe a significant factor here is the vast difference between the cultures of the peoples of Southern Europe and the peoples of Northern Europe, and this is mainly caused by the presence or otherwise of the sun and the ensuing temperature. Cohesion within the EU is perhaps still a distant dream.
If Winston Churchill was writing this I am sure that he would finish with a stirring patriotic flourish, so I am going to leave you with one of his sayings, which seems to be most apposite:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Long may the metaphorical sun shine!