BY LAWRENCE GRAHAMS
Lawrence is a Countryside Business Owner & Government Adviser on Brexit
“We want Article 50 now!” shout many of those Britons who voted for Brexit.
Brexit means Brexit and we need to invoke Article 50 now, right?
Clearly we now have Gina Miller’s legal challenge to the Government’s authority before invoking Article 50. Remember, this is not a direct challenge to Brexit, but the mechanism of its implementation. We need to see what December 7th brings so we’ll leave that one out there for now.
As for the demands for immediately invoking Article 50, well, frankly these are bonkers.
Yes, we all want rid of the various nasties we perceive as heralding from the EU, but we should not all cut off our nose to spite our face.
We also need to get a reality check and leave the political soundbites at the door. There’s a huge amount to work out. And, we also need to negotiate what we want before we take it to the EU as a viable negotiation.
Various industries, whether they be pro or anti Brexit, need to get their houses in order. And those industries need to speak with their colleagues and negotiating partners; they then need to lobby government on what they desire. And if any industry wants to get the right brains, movers & shakers, power-brokers and leaders together, this too will take time.
2 years will zoom past in the blink of an eye.
Before we dare invoke Article 50, we need to be sure of (a) what we are asking for and (b) what we are prepared to accept.
Like many businesses, mine has been keeping a very close eye on the referendum from the very beginning. We’ve made various changes and preparations for (a then potential) Brexit, and now are working to make Brexit work for us now we know the result.
In my line of work, the EU is our bread and butter. We do trade globally and the EU is a big part of that trade and that will not go away, much the same for many businesses. However, how we trade with the EU for the future needs to be carefully considered. Even the most die-hard Brexiteer would have to be completely deluded to believe we will be rid of the EU beast completely even after the UK has left.
I advise UK government departments and I am currently part of a Brexit advisory working group within my industry sector. I somehow have found myself discussing Brexit issues with people of far superior intellect and experience than I, but I know this much; we have an awful lot to discuss. I also know this; there are an awful lot of conversations going on behind the closed doors of power where the political sound bites and egos don’t wash. Business people can often be simple brass tacks kind of folk. Government cannot get flowery with us.
There are still a huge number of questions and technical issues we need to address between ourselves (I am sure this is the same across many business sectors). It is true that no one really knows what the future holds, but we can mould it and ensure it works best for the UK if we get our position in good order from the outset.
Really, do not expect an overnight affair.
After nearly 5 months we’ve barely recognised the questions we need to discuss and we have yet to get to the detail. Once we’re on the clock, we must accept whatever is on the table at the end of 48 months.
Careful what you wish for if you desire an immediate departure!
Back to the legal challenge – is this the ‘establishment’ blocking the people’s will or, the smart end of government buying time to get its ducks in a row?
The Americans now have a new POTUS coming in, one that was verbally pro UK trade, whereas Obama stated quite clearly the UK would be at the back of the queue.
Given more time before starting Article 50 allows us more time to cement the ‘special relationship’, especially as it was well known the Obama administration was not so fond of that relationship. While NAFTA is being renegotiated the UK can step in and take some of the pie.
Elsewhere, we see Mrs May in India, and I would hope a bit of a world tour in the coming months from her. And the Royals out there globetrotting – doing a bit too as they’re good for trade. We must give ourselves some time to go and oil the wheels of growth and trade elsewhere and when we do finally trigger Article 50, we can be sat at the negotiating table with the aces in our pocket and the EU on the back foot.
There is a lot of political bluster and name calling, from all sides, it’s what politicos do. But while they play schoolyard games, the rest of us in the brass tacks world need to get on with the job of making Brexit work, and that needs time. The wise know that time is a precious and expensive commodity.
Article 50 – Countryside and fellow Brits – it’s the long game.