Brexit begins today. Finally.
Nine months after the UK voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May will finally trigger Article 50 today. The legislation that begins the process of a member-state to leave the political Union.
On Tuesday evening it was announced that PM May had signed the 8 page letter which informed the EU that the UK was now leaving. That letter is to be delivered to the EU HQ in Brussels today.
The UK is heading towards a new dawn as of today, unknown yes, but a new dawn.
Time to change the conversation
As of today, there is a two year time limit for the UK to strike a deal with the EU as it leaves. Two years seems a bit short to me, I suspect a transitional deal is the more likely outcome, but you never know. So as we start this new journey, it really is now time to change the tone of the conversation. No more labels of “remoaners” or the various negative labels that have been given to those who voted leave. Remember that over 17 million people were that unhappy with the current relationship with the EU that they decided to take the momentous decision to leave. To be that unhappy to want to leave, respect has to be given to those points of view, whether we all agree with them or not.
The path in front of us now is a very simple one: to negotiate the very best deal possible with the EU, whilst building new relationships with the rest of the world in order to reshape how Britain trades and functions around the globe.
I will be blunt on this point though, the wallowing of those against the decision to leave really does have to stop now. It still floods social media and I see no point in it. It won’t change a single thing. There is a real need for us all to come together to make the very most of the opportunities that will arise because of this. And there will be opportunities. Nothing is ever without opportunity. Only those who seek negativity will find themselves in a lesser position. The arguments about the referendum, the campaigns, the personalities are all now completely irrelevant. To continue to focus on them is to waste time and energy.
From here on in, the UK, including Scotland, has to work together in order to maintain as prosperous economy as possible whilst we negotiate some inevitably rocky roads. It doesn’t matter if you voted to stay or voted to leave, it’s been and gone and this is now the task that is in front of us all.
Beware of social media
I think the most irritating aspect of Brexit so far has been social media itself. You never get a balanced conversation on social media when it comes to Brexit. On one side of the debate you have people saying the UK is in ruins and the UK will become a disaster. On the other side there are those fantasizing the demise of the EU.
First of all, the UK is not in ruins. Not by any stretch at all. If you want to look at a country actually in ruin and disaster, you only need to look at the tragedies taking place in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and war-torn countries in Africa. When we talk about the state of this country and the language we use, we need to need be respectful of the plight of other nations in truly horrendous conditions in comparison to our own. We’re leaving a political union, not a continent. Lets try and keep some perspective.
Secondly, those here wishing or at least fantasizing about the break up of the EU should also be mindful of that extreme too. When we voted to leave, we voted to leave the EU as a single member, not to take down the entire organisation. That would have consequences beyond anything we could predict, and with so many other nations connected by the Euro, there would be a great number of highly valuable nations in some order of chaos, to which we would be exposed to some degree. So again, lets try and keep some perspective when it comes to the language and tone we use around this subject.
Generally though, social media is about as poor a platform on which to discuss Brexit. I can confidently say that on every Twitter thread I’ve read on the matter, there’s not a single balanced, clear-headed point of view. It’s all tweets and retweets of extreme left or extreme right views, spun out of total realism, that they’re not worth reading. I guess it’s best just to get your head down, do good, hard, honest work and make the most that comes your way and don’t let the media hype you up too much.
All about the detail
This is where the nitty gritty starts to matter. UK and EU negotiating teams will now be geared up and ready to go, with each outlining their positions and goals they wish to achieve from negotiations.
It is these very details that will swing markets and currencies one way then the other. There will likely be positive periods, balanced by negative periods. It will also be important to take these in our stride. This is a long process. Any short term effects should be taken with a large dose of salt.
But it’s the workings of these details which will shape the final deal for the UK, be it in two years time or longer. Industries such as our own should be keeping a fairly close eye on what the likely outcomes will be, so that any preparations required can be done swiftly and with plenty of time to tweak.
It’s also the detail that will have an influence on the Scottish independence referendum. You can guarantee that there won’t be one before Brexit terms have been agreed. But Theresa May won’t be able to hold it off forever, so it’s likely she’ll want to get a deal signed on the dotted line in two years time so she can sell it to the people of Scotland. Perhaps then she’ll agree to a referendum. You can bet your last quid though that the upcoming General Election in 2020 will be heavily dominated by the subjects of the union of the UK.
One thing is for sure, we’re going to have the busiest period for politics in decades and it’s going to leave this country changed for a very long time. If you’re already bored of words like “Brexit” and “referendum”, then it might be best to unplug all devices, disconnect from media completely, move to the woods and build a tree-house. It might be the only way to escape it.
To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: