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Your quarterly quota of expert insight and fresh thinking.. The business magazine for Suffolk and Cambridgeshire...

15th July 2016

{ Brexit: What Next? }

On the 23rd June the UK electorate took the monumental decision that we should leave the EU. Now that the referendum is behind us and the dust is beginning to settle and the sun is continuing to rise each morning, let’s take a moment to look back on what’s happened, why and how best to move forward.

I’m not sure the majority of people expected to wake up on the 24th June to news that the UK electorate had voted to leave the European Union. In many polls it had appeared that Remain was ahead of Leave. The media and the Government had clearly been favouring Remain. So what went wrong for the Remain campaign?

Both sides would have had more successful campaigns if they had focussed on positive messages in favour of their respective positions rather than negative ones against their opposition’s. There was too much reliance on scare tactics and political sleight of hand, and too many threats from Government and overseas.

As far as the Remain campaign goes though, perhaps a more positive campaign would have generated electorate engagement and seen more people vote for the status quo. According to the opinion polls leading up to the vote there were a large number of people who were undecided. Yet the people riled against the status quo and the position of the media, very possibly because they were fed up of the aforementioned scare tactics.

Looking to the future, we sell more to EU countries than we buy from them so we are in a strong negotiating position to strike up new and possibly better trade agreements with the EU and its member states. The snag is that we may find ourselves under time-pressure if we invoke Article 50 too early. Preliminary negotiations on the terms of our exit are going to have to take place before we invoke Article 50 and start our legal exit from the EU.

But what does Brexit mean for the EU? Immediately following our referendum result, the six founding member states of the EU met. There are concerns over the message that such a meeting sends to the remaining 21 member states, excluding the UK; are these founding members somehow more important than them? There has also been division between those who want to expedite our exit and those who want us to take time to ensure that there is a stable and controlled exit. Our referendum on our membership of the EU, and ultimate vote to leave, sets a precedent that other countries may choose to follow, especially given potential concerns over the sustainability of the Euro as a one medicine for all illnesses currency.

Those on the winning side of the referendum must not gloat and people must not use the outcome to justify racist hate crime or violent behaviour. Similarly, those on the losing side must not sulk and continue being divisive, instead they must accept the outcome so that the UK can move forward together. If we are not cohesive in negotiating the UK through the unchartered waters ahead, we may find we end up shipwrecked along the way, especially if Scotland were to separate away from the rest of the UK. London in particular must accept that it must operate with the interests of the whole UK for it relies on the rest of the UK as much as the rest of the UK relies on it. We must now pull together for the sake of the UK as a whole and remember that leaving the EU doesn’t necessarily mean burning the bridges of our European relationships.

Thankfully the Conservative leadership has been decided quickly and we can move forward with positivity and direction rather than coast due to uncertainty and indecision. We may find ourselves in stormy waters but we must remain united in moving forward and place faith in our Government to stand at the helm. I am confident that Britain will prosper, that the Pound will bounce back and the sun will continue to rise each morning.

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