Three months after the vote, like a bloodless civil war, Brexit left the United Kingdom split into a more than ever divided society and with a number of open issues, which we all need now to address in good will, with an open mind-set and by pursuing fairness.
Specifically, while Theresa May is trying her best to reunite the Parliament and give us a working government, possibly because of lack of ideas, bravery and creativity, we have all left our economy slide down quietly, almost in acceptance of a self-fulfilling prophecy to occur: we were repeated Brexit was to be a mistake, and that seems what we wait to happen.
If nothing else, this is a conceptual mistake, and there is only one way we can fix it: we need to persuade ourselves that Brexit can be as good or as bad as we let it be. Nothing is set in stone, and with or without the EU Britain still can and will prosper.
It is true that we do not control international markets, and so far they were not impressed by the vote, to say the least. But their reaction was mostly based on a simple reading of our collective emotional response to Brexit: we felt suddenly defeated, wounded, worried, angry.
We kept repeating we were unreliable not only to our European allies, but also to ourselves, given the childishness by which several statements were made during the Brexit vote campaign: from the £350million pounds to be spent on our NHS (just a plain lie) to the would-be economic disaster on the other extreme of the spectrum (just a plain irresponsible attitude, especially when you have political responsibilities).
Either way British people voted, it is now time for everyone to heal: it is time to stop moaning and get united again, those who live in this Country, British and otherwise, and even for our European neighbours.
Because Britain did nothing else than what most in Europe knew: it was just the child who cried out ‘But he isn’t wearing anything at all!’. There are no Emperor’s new clothes on this disarrayed Europe, the way it has evolved so far. And if Europe does not change, chances are Britain (and possibly every other European nation) will eventually be better off out than in.
So, how to get there, then? how to ensure Brexit would eventually work? Five possible decisional scenarios follow, by which to steer the current status.
1. Government and BoE should be more determined in ensuring our currency is valued as it should: many macro-economic indices clearly indicate our economy is in a healthier status than any other of our Continental neighbours’ when considered individually, so the message should be that our sterling pound is a safe financial asset. This would allow not only to retain capitals, but to block speculation from exploiting the exchange rate to buy cheaply our assets and damaging us all: let us make it clear, a low-valued pound means houses in London keep their value too high for those living there and only convenient to foreign investors. So, how to keep the currency value up? Whilst other approaches can be pursued, an increase in the interest rate would do the job quite quickly, with a couple of advantages: people (internally and from abroad) would start appreciating more the value of money and would be encouraged to save and to spend without getting indebted, as we would buy cheaper from abroad, which is obviously in our interest overall. Export could be slightly affected, but in our global market, we’d want to export Jaguars and other high added-value, innovation-carrying goods rather than becoming competitive with other global producers of cheap, low-quality products. And a strong sterling currency would not affect too much those who buy Jaguars anyway.
2. We should send a clear message to Europe that we are here to compete with them, not to sit down and wait for them to preach and demolish us. It is not a war we need, obviously: but we should engage in a fierce competition with Europe in order to demonstrate how a politically stable national economy as we are can perfectly do well in the global market, without needs of steroids for enlarging what is in last instance a closed market as the single market is. And the message would be: our competition to Europe would be -eventually- of mutual convenience also to all other European stakeholders.
3. But, and this is tricky, together with the above message we’d need to send out another crucial message, which is paramount for our reputation: the United Kingdom will not need to be and it will not become a glorified Isle of Jersey or Panama. Fair taxation does not need to be, and will never be equal to zero taxation. A multinational company that would be paying peanuts to the UK would be not only just pretty useless to us as it would be for any other major Country in Europe: it would be -in last instance- bad for the market and the whole global economy. And, internally, we need to ensure wealth is created and distributed fairly across the whole society rather than just collapsing on (the usual) few hands.
4. We need to exorcise any Little Britain temptation: we are a progressive, innovative, forward-looking Country, and we should be clear there is no room for regressive instances in our society. Britain has given so much to the World in the last half century or so because of the number of values it has been pursuing since, from democracy to freedom, from equality to accessibility and integration. We do need to recover the aspiration (even more than the actual concepts) behind the ‘big society’ claims made just a few years ago, as a winning model against other approaches that are currently poisoning Continental Europe. And we need to be fully coherent and aligned with what we preach about them: only if we believe in and practice our values, investors will believe in them too.
5. The United Kingdom should aim at pursuing not just short-term plans but also a fully shared long-term vision as the strategic sectors of our economy and society are concerned: energy, education, military, welfare, international alliances, etc. Only once we all know where we want to go, we can assert our identity as an independent but not isolated Country, and start re-designing and consolidating new collaboration models within the international markets. And to do so, we need to have a fair, public debate, in which everyone who loves and lives here has their share of responsibilities and opportunities. We need new rules and we need them soon, to ensure the World would look at us as the vibrant society we are, and not like the bunch of moaning people someone seems so keen to depict us like.