All that British leaders have done since the nation decisively backed Brexit is panic. Pure and simple. Not just the ones who opposed it in the first place and never expected it to pass. Even those who backed it all along have begun to harbour doubts. This is why, four months after the historic vote to break free of European shackles, the country remains in a state of paralysis.
Theresa May’s government has either expressed embarrassment or sounded apologetic over the referendum’s verdict. It continues to vacillate, unable to make its mind how, and how quickly, to proceed with the exit. This drift is dangerous, as anybody in finance would know. We recently saw glimpses of its consequence. Markets punished the pound, the currency diving 6% in mere days. Now the British currency has declined 15% since the Brexit vote, trades at a 31-year low against the U.S. dollar, and is at a historic low against a basket of currencies of major trading partners.
That is why the time to bury Brexit doubts and act is NOW – before it is too late.
Let’s get this clear, once and for all: Brexit is a good thing for the country and its people, and there’s no reason for the nation to apologise for its decision – to Europe or to the rest of the world.
For those of you too young to remember here’s a thought. Great Britain was doing just fine, maybe even better, before it threw its lot with Europe in 1973, irrationally, fearing isolation in Western Europe. Psychological legerdemain, I say.
Having joined Europe, what did we get?
One more thick layer of bureaucracy that costs us millions of pounds each year. And that is not even the worst price we have paid. It’s the system. It pokes our eye, seeking to regulate just about everything, even the size and shape of a banana, in a manner of speaking. This has stifled the British people’s traditional enterprise.
You know what, I think Britain is today ready to stand on its own and will be the better for it. It can shape its own identity again, and just in case, Switzerland serves as a model.
A week before Britons voted on Brexit, Swiss lawmakers voted to withdraw the nation’s application for EU membership, submitted as far back as 1992. One Swiss lawmaker held out the view that only “a few lunatics” might still want to join the EU, while another pointed out – to assure jittery Britons, perhaps – that “no volcano (had) erupted” since Iceland ended its membership bid in 2015.
To be sure, challenges exist for Britain’s own Brexit, but there’s no volcano waiting to erupt. Geographically, we are close to Europe as always and I don’t think we will ever lose out to anybody else. Britain can do business with pretty much anyone it wants without being told what to do and, worse, how to do.
Similarly, the city of London remains an impregnable fort for finance. Nothing is going to change that. In fact, over the past decades, Europe has tried hard to create alternate centres – Frankfurt and Paris, to name two – and undermine London. But it simply hasn’t worked. I don’t think we can really put a finger on why their bids failed, but clearly London has an additional zing not found elsewhere, maybe one that comes from its storied history as the financial capital of Europe.
The City remains the envy of Europe, and might be the enduring symbol our leaders should hold on to, not to mention embrace and cherish. If we can get on quickly with the actual mechanics of Brexit, the whole nation too could, once again, become the envy of Europe.