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Here we go, it’s Brexit day – again – in the House of Commons. Peers and MPs have been summoned in case of Parliamentary ‘ping-pong’. Journalists gather in Central Lobby and the cameras mass on College Green. Accusations of bad faith fly about, charges of treachery and disloyalty, the PM’s credibility – her very future are, once again, questioned. Great bursts of hot air and huge gusts of wind are swirling around Westminster today. Quite what it’s all about no-one is entirely clear, but that it’s very important is generally agreed by all those who inhabit the Westminster bubble.
Well hang on. Outside of the bubble things look a bit different.
Business is, rightly, concerned about Brexit. On the face of things Brexit, generally speaking, looks like its something large business will be able to take in its stride. For small and medium sized businesses it looks much more difficult. There is no question that many bigger businesses have been quietly and systematically moving investment and personnel over to the continent. For smaller and medium sized businesses this is not an option. All business is uneasy about the uncertainty of it all.
Always it has to be remembered Brexit is a political process, not a business choice. In their choice the British people show no sign, so far, of wavering. There is no sign of ‘Bremorse’, so the path to the UK’s exit from the EU moves forward. It is a process and not an event. Our departure is occurring and is on course. What pre-occupies Westminster, but seems to leave the rest of the nation uninterested, is what our departure deal will look like – that is if we manage to secure one.
Well we have asked to leave so we cannot be surprised if the other twenty-seven countries of the European Union are a bit sticky about it. It is our choice, it is not something that is being done to us, and we have to face up to what it means. Despite dire and apocalyptic warnings through the referendum campaign of all the bad things that would happen, and all the warnings subsequently the British people have remained, apparently, unmoved. Despite actual evidence of the economic impact of the Brexit process the British people have remained unmoved. It is an impressive display of sang-froid.
The remaining members of the European Union are facing a fractious and fragmented future. The domestic politics of key European Union countries makes it look increasingly difficult for the whole project to work. We will have to see. For us, in the immediate future, it is no longer our business and we have no input into how it will unfold.
The vote today in Parliament, whatever the result, will have little practical effect one way or the other on the policy of the government or the future of the Prime Minister. It is a side-show, no matter how breathless the fuss around it.
The much bigger issue is how we are preparing across the whole of our society, in every community, for the impact of Brexit. Not just business, but every faith group, charity, voluntary organisation, sports club, school, WI, scout and brownie group, branch of the local British Legion and every other institution and outfit that make up the fabric of our lives. How is that going?