A very British Brexit

David vs Goliath Bot

Well, Brexit has begun. Two years of interesting negotiations, debates and edicts I am sure we’ll be left with on not-so-silver platters. Maybe we have aces hidden up our sleeves with other global powers, but the neighbours are getting restless.

The day after the referendum vote, I woke up with a dream rattling round my head. It was something of a dystopian future. A drone camera followed a lone Trabant along the A316 along the section next to Twickenham Rugby Stadium. The drone camera dropped back and rose into the sky revealing a long shot of a leafy avenue, devoid of traffic and overshadowed by tall, blooming trees along both sides and the central reservation. There were more trees into the distance and on both sides, with houses and tower blocks resting quietly among them. There was an air of peace as if things had been like this for a long time. The lone Trabant driver was one of the wealthy – whoever they were, they had cars – and they were on their way to work in London.

This may not be the future we have in store, but indicators are pointing to a very tough exit and inflation is rising. The government has implemented some sharp tax rises (e.g. business rates, vehicle excise duty on new cars) and more are proposed to made accessible (e.g. a VAT rise) with the upcoming general election. With the pound weakening, the cost of imports has risen and inflation is already at 2.3%. Commercial goods have seen a rise of 6% last month alone. This has a knock-on effect on the consumer who, ultimately, consumes a bit less. The EU is proposing a post-exit bill of €100bn (up from €75bn a week ago) and various countries (EU member states) are already taking a tough stance. And there’s the threat of war in North Korea that could affect us all. Tensions are high. Companies are relocating and the divide between the business Davids and Goliaths in the UK is becoming ever more distinct. And the Davids are not winning this time. It is a time for Goliaths.

We are hoping that the elders of our society – those who govern – have got it figured out, or at least can figure it out so that we don’t all end up significantly worse off like the former left-driven Argentine economy. The cards seem stacked against us and, when you look at it from the perspective of macroeconomics and nation-states (the level that governments operate at), the economic plays for a long-term stability may be ‘great for the country eventually’ (as we are being told) yet they have the discouraging downside of being not so great (to very bad) for the Everyman in the short-to-medium term. Livelihoods will be lost. Times will be hard. Stiff upper lip old chap. It will be all right in the end.

Maybe this is what we need to get through, maybe this is how we can survive the economic tornado by playing to our last remaining strength?

But there are indicators of a brighter future. I read today that Michel Roux is opening a gastro pub in the 5* Langham Hotel in London. Although the menu isn’t what I call “ye olde pubbe”, the thought of a themed environment attached to a landmark London hotel feels like we’re selling out to the quaint old world image of the very British stereotype.

Maybe this is what we need to get through, maybe this is how we can survive the economic tornado by playing to our last remaining strength?

Our Britishness.

Let’s turn the country into one great attraction (or side show) that the rest of the world may flock to. Morris Dancers. Yards of Ale. Bunting and Tea Cakes. Tea. Lots and lots of Tea. And Whisky (unless Scotland goes it alone of course). Beefeaters. The Queen. Bowler Hats. Black Umbrellas. Pin Stripe Suits (assuming the City doesn’t relocate). Pomp and Circumstance. Souvenirs. Roll up, roll up to the Greatest Show on Earth! Or at least the British budget version of it.

It’s relatively cheap to come here from overseas at the moment. The exchange rate works in our favour, so let’s dangle a whopping great big carrot of Britishness and regain our identity on the world stage once again. Even if it means playing to our stereotypes. And if that doesn’t work we can always go down to the very British pub.

No, not the one in the village that used to be owned and operated by the Cholmondley-Warner-Smyths (they were forced to close in the last economic turmoil). We’ll be in the one next to the hotel or in every town that has the air of being British with its -esque menu and its -esque bar, it’s European staff here on Barista visas owned and operated by our very own (offshore) Goliaths.

Welcome to New Britain. It’s going to be so much fun.