Friday, March 24, 2017

Allie Renison on the need to leave Referendum divisions behind

Rather too many of the comments I have read about Brexit since the vote to leave the EU on 23rd June last year have ranged from Panglossian optimism from "leave" supporters or die-in-the-ditch pessimism from "Remainers" to completely barking off-the-wall insanity from both extremes such as Hezza's suggestion that leaving the EU is like handing the Germans retrospective victory in World War II.

(Can both sides PLEASE give the WWII and Hitler references a rest?)

Too many on both sides are still fighting the battles of the referendum campaign instead of moving on.

There is a very good article on Conservative Home by Allie Renison, who is Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors which suggests how we can move on from this and concentrate on getting the best deal for Britain. Here are a couple of extracts,

"We throw around these labels, “Remoaner”, “Brexit fanatic”, with alarming alacrity, not realising how painful divisions are being cemented more deeply with every passing day. For Remainers, the cavalier attitude with which some Leavers appear to treat negotiations which warrant a more serious approach hardens their certainty about impending disaster. There are opportunities which await the UK out of the EU, but the challenges are more immediate and must be acknowledged and tackled to take full undiminished advantage of those dividends.

Conversely, many on the Remain side seem determined to wallow in the sheer complexity of it all, more interested in proving that the EU will smite the UK, than advancing arguments for cooperation with their European friends. It is imperative that we meet each other half way. We must stop letting mediums get in the way of this message about forging a cooperative and positive approach. Dismissing the arguments of others because of who they are, how they voted, or what we think they think won’t help. This is not a time for smugness and satisfaction, on all sides. It’s a time to muck in and start doing the legwork to come up with solutions to problems.

We are doomed to being in a perpetual state of rerunning the referendum battle if we don’t start talking to each other honestly, openly and seriously about the future. And calmly. Many of the meetings on Brexit I have been to, or spoken at, are echo chambers, full of visceral disdain and downright loathing for those who advocated a different position to them. I try my hardest to approach every discussion with an open mind, given Brexit is putting the UK and the EU into unchartered waters where there is no real precedent. To find the grey in a continuing sea of insistent black and white. This is not a time for being sure of anything, good or bad.

In some ways, the referendum itself feels a distant memory, so quickly have I shifted to focusing on how I can help make this work. This is perhaps a reflection of my dealings with businesses every day, those who can’t afford to stop and wallow. I realise that for many people, the shock is still real, as too is the sadness. Instead of poking fun at these “Remoaners”, Leavers would do well to try and show they understand that, even if the sentiment is in no way shared. But they don’t call Britain a “carry on” culture for nothing.

As Winston Churchill put it,

'If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future'”.

You can read the full article here.

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