How did we get to such a diabolical political situation with Brexit? How is it that now any ‘man in the street’ can become an expert in anything from online media all the way to politics without any qualifications or degree? At £2tn, we are one of the world’s largest economies. Now 25% of it is on the butcher’s block undergoing surgical review, change, reorganisation and disruption that in many cases is going to be life-altering for the nation. So much that serious plans worth billions of pounds are now in place to deal with the fallout of Brexit economy.
We have had three years to understand this. Still, mass disinformation on an unprecedented scale pervades the nation’s understanding of what is going to be the real outcome of deal or no-deal Brexit. What is going to be affected most critically is our membership with the EU bank, which we currently have a 16% stake in.
These are the main seven aspects that are directly impacted on by Brexit:
- Our freedom to travel and trade
- Our population and property overseas
- What we pay for our goods and services
- Our currency value and credit
- National stability
Until something has been agreed nothing can get started. The consequences of a mistake at this stage, which has already cost this nation hundreds of billions, will be very serious indeed. Either way, it’s going to be a rough ride for many as the full effect of our actions finally comes home to roost.
The Prologue – Google and I started at the same time
Back in 1996 both Google and I were busy setting up our businesses but from very different angles. The Google guys were still doing PhD grade research and I was fighting a rearguard action as heavy industry was systematically dismantled, leaving brown ground scars across every major city, countryside and waterfront throughout the UK. The age of heavy industry in the UK was dead and hi-tech was getting started. Media was about to face its toughest ever survival challenge (and still is).
The age of ‘The Man In the Street’ media was about to start, with anyone being able to become an expert in any field on social media. Take YouTubers for example or Instagram influencers. Within nine years the iPhone would arrive and the age of average person in media would revolutionise what we think, how we vote, news reporting, disasters, entertainment and even define our genders. So to be politically correct the ‘Man’ in the street which used to mean general genderless opinion must become ‘people’ so as not to evoke the 50+ other definitions. Nothing was ever going to be quite the same again. So ‘People in the Street’ it is or PITS for short, came in to view.
Like all Pits these people are in dark uncharted space. Their imaginations, opinions and thoughts soon overtake reality. They are informed by passers-by in much the same way as travellers used to meet up outside London from the stagecoach inns and exchange news, gossip and opinions. They are the new “Cock and Bull story” of the social media age where it becomes increasingly difficult to decipher fact from fiction, groomers from friends, stingers from dealers and know what or who to believe anymore. In fact, even understanding what is going on is completely bewildering for us here. Down in the “PITS” everyone is a potential threat.
Social Media Influencers – The New Millionaires
It’s amazing how many millionaires have been created in the media: bloggers, trainers, opportunists, influencers. They are all out there. I always think when PITS expertise exceeds that of the seasoned professionals, then it’s the first warning shot and time to get out whilst you still can. An increasing number of people are despairing with PITS media, so much so, that they are starting to avoid social media altogether as it becomes an increasingly festering sore of misinformation, manipulation and overrun with self-pronounced experts.
So from the closure of our Pits to the unfettered PITS the journey to 2019 has certainly not been boring, was and still is challenging and deeply unsettling. The only weapon you need today is your mobile phone and suddenly you are fair game. Those who stand for nothing will surely fall for anything, as someone once said.
We are All Experts in Brexit Economy
So here are, the PITS on their collective backsides and they have no idea how they fell into the mess called Brexit. Apparently we are all experts in it. We must be! After all, who asks expert questions of people who can’t possibly know the answer or the outcome down here in the grey murk, from our commoner politicians onwards. We were all guilty of voting with no knowledge, plans or understanding of what lies in store for us, lambs to the slaughter lead by the blind, the self-interested and the ignorant. It is so easy to start a war. It must be a war because according to the PITS we need to adopt a warlike attitude to sort this out. The blitz spirit. Except this time, it is our own friendly bombs we are busy killing each others’ livelihoods with. What sort of madness is that! We have set light to a thought that somehow the Arab crisis and displaced people from outside the EU are going to take our jobs so we must leave the EU. Where did that thought come from?
Now in 2019, after losing money at the rate of between six and eight hundred million a week for three years, faced with a massive growth crash which will turn the clock back to 2008 we are deluged with an opinion from PITS who have no idea what is about to hit them or what to do about it because we voted to leave without a plan or any mandate based on fact or reality. There are still people asking on social media why the civil servants and government have not implemented the Brexit vote. They fail to understand that nothing can happen until it is agreed WHAT and HOW the referendum means. We only know “Brexit Means Brexit” down here in the PITS, but the economic consequences of Brexit are massive.
It’s reached the point where we are all so sick of it and the damage done to the nation, we just want to get out and get on with it. As a field engineer myself and looking at it from the industry perspective, more businesses got so fed up with waiting that they are now investing in large-scale projects again. New warehouses are being built that need racking, workbenches, pallet trucks and all sorts of industrial equipment, you name it. Getting a free site visit is always a good way to start. Get in touch if you are looking for a local supplier and designer of handling and storage equipment.
We are now in the same state of mind in national desperation that nobody actually knows what to stand for anymore. What none of us can deny is the cost of getting here and the cost of getting us out of here. That bill is going to be paid in full by the PITS, in full and no discount. If we want a great nation now, we will have to put up or shut up. I have heard some say it’s worse than National Ground Hog Day.
Can we Control Brexit Economy?
Just to give people an idea of one tiny bit of this massive problem and believe me, the PITS have no idea how this will impact them, but think of this:-
There are about 5,000 taxable classifications in over 50 chapters, all with variable tariffs, endless definitions and mountains of questions to be answered, so much that they require qualifications to complete. Then there are travel documents, inspection and intervention procedures, money to change hands from business to government before access and egress are permitted. This is just the tip of what ‘taking control back’ means. If you thought £9bn a year was expensive, wait until you see the bill for this! We DON’T have a fully staffed standards office anymore. Every day there are hosts of new standards being produced and regulations being brought into force and it was formerly a burden shared.
So we might not wish to discharge this particular baby without effluent bathwater. Even our water is controlled by the EU standard to which we have agreed in full and now it is owned by private investors and in itself is massive in terms of regulations of what we can and can’t do. So when you rock up with your export or import, the entire process from packaging materials onwards requires compliances which are currently tightly regulated. More customs officers, civil servants, police and staff for businesses have to be taken on, trained and the costs of that haven’t even been thought of. If you would like a conspiracy theory here is one dating back to pre-2016:
Prime Minister: “Well that’s it, we are leaving in 2 years.”
Permanent Secretary: “Quite out of the question, Prime minister.”
Prime Minister: “Why?”
Permanent Secretary: “Because, Prime Minister, we need at least 5 years just to reorganise over 30 government departments in order to be able to replace all the shared offices between us and the EU. We need to recruit and train an army of people and you have not yet even agreed heads of terms so we have no idea what to prepare for or what these people will be doing.”
…and guess what? Here we are. That’s why nothing has happened as yet! But it has cost an arm and a leg to get here! That is undeniable.
This is where we are in the collective. Since the PITS have never paid a blind bit of attention or cared less to those who are paid substantial sums to protect us from ourselves, (starting with Mark Carney) I have no reason to think they will start now. How could we, we, in the PITS exist in a twilight world where we once trusted our system to protect us. So I am going to ignore the PITS, come up in to the light and talk about life as it is going to unfold in the coming months and yes, years too as we move forward.
We talk about building new markets. There are around two million businesses in the UK, about 60% of which are private SMEs, the rest are big corporates or government. This then divides into two categories: “Ready to use” or RTUs and ATUs or “Assist To Use”. One relies on front-end loading to make it really easy to use and simple to acquire, like Google for example, but the front-end is written by highly skilled faceless operatives you can never talk to. ATUs, however, require people skills, diagnoses and testing to deploy. There are crossovers. For the purposes of this creative exercise and at the risk of massively over-simplifying it, we need to re-think our entire economy and re-develop it quickly to recover from this massive wrench and upheaval in our economic system, which although has stood us in good stead up until 1948, those days are over and we need to re-position.
Back in the Day – Steam Engine and Industrial Revolution
The Tay Bridge crossing water between Newport-on-Tay and Dundee in Scotland was not engineering’s finest hour, but it was a wake-up call. Our railways, ships and power constructions were once the envy of the world. Now they have been readily adopted and developed and the IP has long gone, leaving derelict and forgotten industries and also many opportunities in their wake. Take for example our canals, busier today than at their height in the industrial revolution, developed out of a simple concept of trapping water at high tide.
The steam engine and fuel was the black gold of its time. Then travel and ticket systems, cafe cultures, holiday destinations. All this came out of humble beginnings and cultures and business grew accordingly.
Back to Today – IT and A.I.
The probability is that artificial intelligence is going to be the big future. Only I seriously doubt it will go quite the way of science fiction, even though it is being weaponised quite hideously even as I write this. We all thought that by the year 2000 everything would be done by cameras and robots and there would be mass unemployment. The facts are quite different, there are more people working today than at any time in civilisation and that has its problems too. So where are the changes, chances and new opportunities?
Artificial Intelligence is another complicated, yet very exciting topic. We have recently spoken to KUKA, whose robots are used in a music video (image above). Nigel Stanford, a very clever musican from New Zealand, programmed several robots to play musical instruments. Read the full story.
Well, you can’t see most of them, I.T. and A.I. We can stop and chat to any random person, engage with your iPhone and it will do the talking for you. That’s a form of automation, but there are thousands of people engaged in making it possible for you to have that PITS stop! So not less jobs, more jobs! The same applies to the automation of money, tickets and travel – more jobs, more chances. We need clean air, managed resources, clean fuels, clean travel, resource management. These are all the jobs for the future. More PITS have more money than at any time in history.
A good idea doesn’t need money, it needs a good strategic thought. The chances are out there for us. With some better leadership and support in our education system and the flexibility brought about by IT to include highly creative minds. For example, Albert Einstein was a self-confessed Dyslexic, yet Dyslexia is still seen as a learning difficulty. A.I. could agree this and many similar issues because dyslexia is not the problem, the system is. This applies to so many other areas of life and care in the community too. We could all be ahead of this.
The lost industries of today will be replaced by production of electricity and steel from clean processes. It is absolutely massive. If only we could get our PITS out of the murk, lined up and stop kidding ourselves about sovereignty and taking back control (which we always had along with all the other Johnsonism fictions), we could be leading the field again. We are one of the greatest business nations on earth with a front seat in the world’s business stadium. As soon as the permanent secretary clears the decks and frees up the will of people, we need to get cracking. There is not a minute to lose. When the world sees that, the investment will flood in. The world needs us.
Written by Paul Casebourne.
Cover Image © AbsolutVision