Brexit's bad news but not the end for UK plc

EDITOR'S BLOG: Last night's referendum result is a shock to the system. But life must go on and we must make the most of a bad job when healing self-inflicted wounds.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 29 Jun 2016

This is not one of our finer moments. But the end of the United Kingdom (#indyref2 is already trending on Twitter) was never going to be a pretty process. When the history of Brexit gets written, trying to work out how we walked into this self-inflicted catastrophe will take some explaining.

It is likely to mystify our grandchildren. It has reminded us that we are a nation deeply divided. Where I live in Lambeth in London 78% voted to stay in. Three quarters of people under the age of 25 voted Remain.

They were beaten by white men with elasticated waistbands and too much time on their hands, who like to rail about Poles and Roma gypsies as they spend their pensions. But 52% of the people have spoken and a result is a result.

I think it’s time, as hard as it might be this morning, to try to look on the bright side. We are where we are. Best foot forward. Where can we find a few rays of sunshine?

1) There's no point panicking

Very little is likely to happen immediately. Markets are going haywire today but they always do this. While not business as usual the wheels keep turning. You can probably recall feeling a bit Chicken Little back in 2008 with Lehman and Northern Rock.

But like falling off a bike, it’s all a bit slo mo. The after-effects and the pain take some time to come on. So we are ready and can plan for the worst.

2) We're all grown ups here

The main object must be to neutralise the French. It must be possible to cut a deal with the Germans, the Poles, even the Italians. They are realists. Some of them even see our point of view.

The French, however, will not be able to resist the age-old temptation to slip the knife in as far as they are able, especially as they have a vested interest in discouraging their own ‘Frexit’ problem. To give you an idea, a senior adviser to President Hollande reportedly told Channel 4 News's Jonathan Rugman: 'Britain is out. So long. Bye bye. Ciao.'

The European markets are currently down more than the FTSE. This is their problem as well and it is in their interest to work together with their perfidious erstwhile British cousins to sort it out.

3) It might not turn out as bad as we think

This has never been done before. It is a leap into the dark. Ok Greenland did so in 1985 but that hardly counts. We are more than a couple of igloos and a few dozen hungry polar bears. So, Brussels does not have a rule book. As a senior EU official was quoted in the FT: ‘we are faced with a million mad questions and we won’t have answers any time soon.’

Therefore if our diplomats and political leaders are smart they will remain one step ahead and play our hand skillfully and strongly to build new international treaties. After all, Mark Carney learnt his negotiation skills at Goldman Sachs and he’ll be batting for us.

4) Things could be worse

Jeremy Corbyn will not be leading the Brexit negotiations with Brussels (neither will Nigel Farage, for that matter). This incompetent Marxist day-dreamer has lost his own party, his natural working class constituency. He could not even take Labour Birmingham into the Remain box.

The clown has already unnecessarily called for Article 50 to be invoked immediately.  If you think things are going to be tricky and tough think how much worse they would have been with this Chance The Gardener of the left in charge. He can now join Hugo Chavez on the scrapheap of history.

5) There won't be an exodus

We are constantly told that the wave of migrants who have arrived over the last decade have hogged our services. One way is by daring to have children who were born here in the UK. Nobody, not even the unsavoury Nigel Farage will dare to advocate changing the residency status of kids born to Poles and French in Britain.

The bright side is that of course we can keep these people within our midst. In fact, what is alarming is that they may feel so unwelcome in a now failing economy that they might return to the places of their parents' birth.

6) We've still got a lot going for us

We remain, for the time being, the fifth largest economy on the planet. It’s now our job to try our utmost, in the face of adversity, to keep it that way. Our financial services sector accounts for 8% of total UK economic activity and employs 1.1 million people - around 3.6% of the total UK workforce, generating income, investment and exports.

You can argue that this result could be taken as a massive opportunity for the City to work with regulators, investors and clients in order to shape a new rulebook fit for the new climate. The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for more than £69.5 billion turnover and £15.5 billion value added.

With some 160,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and in excess of 799,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 11.8% of total UK export of goods and invests£2.4 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 global manufacturers build in excess of 70 models of vehicle in the UK, supported by around 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.

7) In every dark cloud...

Could it, please god, be the end of the Eurovision Song Contest?


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