Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit. A brittle Britain and Kent, and Common Ground

What a mess. An utter and utter mess.

A few days into Brexit and it couldn’t be much worse if you tried could it?

A 52:48 voting split so close as to be an irrelevance. I say that as a Remainer – and if the vote had gone the other way. The narrowness of the vote means nothing has been decided: many people like the EU and many people don’t.

While the turnout was high at c.70% but that still leaves a third of the nation(s) who haven’t expressed an opinion.

So rather than a 50:50 split we have a 30:30:30 split – and a split that hasn’t changed significantly in almost 6 months of campaigning - if not since the2013 promise of referendum. Certainly the vote wasn’t on the weak as water February 2016 reforms – can you remember those, I can’t.

The people and parties have spoken – and said not very much at all.

The vote also creates Generation Split with the elderly voting against the EU and the young overwhelmingly in favour of it. Research I’ve seen suggests that age 43 is the crossover point.

While the referendum (for either vote) was deeply flawed in not having the Vote16 group as did the Scottish independence referendum –and will certainly be a voting age change in future.

Even without the EU vote we have the UK disintegrating with fundamental differences in Scotland such as tuition fees and dynamic leaders as Sturgeon and Salmond likely to create a tartan version of the Laos Project as Britain’s Battery (as well as education, STEM and agricultural trade) with an emphasis on renewable wind and wave technology.

Speaking of tartan, the new wave of export-led Scottish designers such as can only enrich an autonomous or independent Scotland.
Even I would suggest, Scotland develops Eire links of its own – Celtic Tigers if you will - with a Glasgow-Belfast-Dublin-Cork bridge and hispeed rail speeding up freight. The Institution of Engineers estimated 30% of UK HGV’s are travelling empty - and gridlocked in the Southern ports around Southampton, delaying trade to Scotland and Ireland.

Scotland voted IN and is already seeking an independence referendum again after barely a year – so as to remain in the EU. Silence on whether Brexit would mean border controls at Hadrians Wall again.

While Northern Ireland, the only UK region with a land border with the EU and Eire, (unless you count Kent and its Euroregion as well as Calais Jungle/Chunnel) is raising the prospect of a reunification referendum with Eire. In the anniversary year of the Easter Rising that led to Irish independence, and the years ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that created peace from the Troubles, perhaps that’s fitting.

Those Brits with Irish and Scottish heritage, such as myself, might well be considering an Eire or Scottish passport and citizenship to retain access to the EU along with close and friendly relations with our family of nations.

Britain’s expats in the EU are already questioning the value of freedom to work, travel, live, study and do business from Brexit. For example, will the E111 free healthcare abroad be revoked as with other non-EU nations?

Spain – mired in a similar electoral quandary - with another election in 6 months, no doubt keen to prop up 50% youth unemployment and Med refugees costs, with savings on the 1M Brit expat healthcare, and already moving to urge reunification with Gibraltar and considering tighter border control again rather than say an open Gibraltar and road-rail bridges and links to Morocco and the rest of North Africa as part of the Med Partnership raised by Sarkozy.

Certainly Brexit has resolved the question of the economic value of the EU to UK:

• the worst one day fall in the pound in 30 years
• a stock market crash in France and Italy
• Britain plc downgraded to negative credit ratings for investment
• main banks such as HSBC suffering a 30% fall in shares
• the Bank of England rushing to implement a £250BN(!) emergency fund – handy to know there’s money to prop up the banks again as Britain, and possibly Europe, slides into a deeper recession or at the very least continued recession

Politically, though, the Brexit has turned into a farce.

Within minutes of the Pyrrhic announcement Brexit began to unravel:

• the resignation of PM Cameron - with Europe claiming yet another Tory PM scalp
• Boris and Gove declaring victory but looking as if they’d lost – and the horrifying prospect of explaining there is no plan for Brexit. Nothing.
• astonishing infighting within Labour with the sacking of Hilary Benn Shadow foreign secretary and wave upon wave of c.20 shadow cabinet resignations ahead of a vote of no confidence in Corbyn
• the Greens facing a leadership election anyway with the quiet resignation of Bennett a few weeks ago
• Libdems invisible in the campaign and already shrunken to just 8 MP’s
• questions over the continued existence of UKIP after Brexit – and the new Chair dispute unresolved

While the UKIP-led Brexit platform unravelled within minutes: no £350M of funds to the NHS – indeed funds to the EU may well continue as before in a Single Market arrangement, Hannan MEP confirming immigration won’t be reversed and unlikely to be slowed or halted, Farage changing his mind that he’s lost and now won again and that there’s likely to be a recession but it’s OK, and Carswell, holding his nose at having to deal with Farage, confirming that with 13% of the vote in the last election UKIP is unlikely to have much influence in a new election.

While if that wasn’t enough, within a weekend calls for a 2nd referendum (originally created by Leave when they thought they’d lost) gathered almost 3M votes to Remain.

Britain in week 1 of Brexit looks divided and incompetently governed. Moving from First World to Third World: tipping from the 5th largest economy to the 6th largest in days, with a weaker economy, losing the trust of major corporations such as Nissan and Hitachi for investment. HSBC already preparing to relocate 1,000 workers on the Euro markets to Paris or Frankfurt. And the Tata Steel deal for Wales placed on hold and so on.

While the Chancellor has disappeared and likely to be involved in the caretaker cabinet reshuffle with delays if not paralysis on any new budget, decisions on Heathrow 3rd runway, Northern Powerhouse, HS2/3 and even Operation Stack.

For, in Kent, Brexit follows much the same pattern as the rest of the UK. The percentage of pensioners voting is slightly higher but to be expected in a retirement region already stagnating, and the vote for Remain is higher around the 60% mark. But still the same massive Generation Split with the younger generations (the future of Kent after all) wanting to remain.

While the absence of a Brexit Plan and new PM and new general election (gone are the days of UK PM’s being appointed by the party and simply continuing) will deepen and extend any recession and affect key industries such as tourism. Why would European tourists want to risk visiting a destabilised UK and Kent and possibly currency and ATM problems? UK expats are already seeing one pound to one euro exchange rates and Greek ATM controls on sterling for UK tourists.
The Calais Jungle could well be moved to Dover. Why would France want to cooperate with a non-EU nation, that's the whole point of the EU cooperation agreements?

Although a UK recession may well reduce immigration - and increase emigration.

Kent would face calls such as the absurd situation in Cornwall where a Leave vote instantly leads to the county council calling for more UK funds to replace the lost EU funds! Cornwall, as with Kent and Newcastle and Liverpool and Hull being one of the regions that has consistently befitted from EU funds – whether that’s the Sea2Sea ferries or Channel Tunnel or more local projects such as Thames Crossing or Paramount or Thames Gateway.

Those EU funding taps will be turned off.

While UKIP-Kent at KCC, TDC or RTC has hardly achieved anything in the last 5 years. Not even it's own manifesto on Manston, let alone improving regeneration and securing UK or EU funds. Nothing.

The analogy with UKIP-UK is clear as with the NHS £350M claims: lots of hyperbole to won an election and then brazen backtracking if not rot and decline and inaction.

Even Crossrail in London benefitted from a £1BN EU loan of the sort that’s important for cross-Europe transport links whether the autobahns to Moscow or Istanbul or hispeed rail or airport overhaul and safety.

Kent Police may well want to consider the purchase of an armoured car already – less as a command and control vehicle than riot control - for what could well be a long, hot, summer of discontent and confusion through to a new Tory Leader by the Tory conference in October. And simultaneous Labour and Green leadership elections. And then a new general election in late 2016 or early 2017.

Certainly Kent's universities and languages and schools would be bracing for the decline in international students - why wouldn't say Scottish universities scoop up more candidates?

Undoubtedly rejecting the EU referendum (the vote isn’t binding or law without Parliament’s approval) so to remain in the EU will be a key policy of many if not most of the political parties. Even a Brexit policy is likely to be fluff and facesaving quibbles meaning no real change in UK membership of the EU.
There’s even an argument, given rather silly calls for London independence, that East Kent despite being a hotbed of UKIP support would eventually seek an autonomous arrangement as a part of Europe’s only cross-border county.

Certainly that’s no more absurd than claims of Gibraltar or the Falklands as British territory or the jerrymandered sectarian fudge of the truncated Six Counties of Ulster.

Brexit has exposed the value of Europe to many people, the danger of losing the close political, diplomatic and economic and cultural ties. And Generation Split with younger people wanting to remain in Europe.

The damage is already incalculable with weeks and months if not years of delay and incompetence to be revealed.

The USA and John Kerry are already signalling support for the Special Relationship…with Germany. Why wouldn’t USA focus on Europe’s largest economy, the political and trade links, and in the heart of Europe and the EU?

They even speak good English.

While with Operation Anakonda16 and Rapid Trident (and the USA bases and troops for Europe and Africa in Germany) from the Channel ports to the Ukraine and Crimean borders is a US-EU focus, prior to Russian and Turkish accession to the EU.

Brexit Britain looks brittle and confused, even before Article 50 is invoked, in comparison as EU27 and USA concentrates on a united Europe with Bosnia and Serbia and Albania.

After a year of Corbyn nothing has been done and I was astonished at how few of the Shadow Cabinet I actually knew.

Certainly wiser and more capable heads are needed such as May and Fox, or Benn (who didn't then stand against Corbyn for Leader), Hodge, Onwurah, Blackman-Woods and Creasy, and Lucas and the aforementioned Sturgeon and Salmond and Robertson could be surer hands on the tiller than the sinking hulk left by Boris and Gove and Corbyn and Farage.

While a revitalised Cameron focus from the Lords on trade could help stop some of the damage that will ripple outwards for years.

Trending on Twitter is the hashtag #whathavewedone and you might well ask.

Time for Garbutt KCC leader 2017 and MP 2020 – or is that 2016 or 2017?

What an utter, utter mess.

Time for Change.

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

Tim’s titbits:

• Who should pop up last week in the BHS pension scandal with Philip Green and Chappell…Lord Grabiner of Britain’s most corrupt barristers One Essex Court with Glick QC and Hollingworth. Grabiner it seems was Chair of BHS (appointed by his brother the CEO – you couldn’t make this up could you) although didn’t turn up for many of the Board meetings when the pensions black hole was created. Frank Field referred to his diminishing reputation while Private Eye described him as “a boiled old sausage” for the previous LIBOR scandal he led for the Bank of England while the Financial Times described him as “Lord Grabafee”. More later, but as Vince Cable stated, what an advertisement for British business – and now the rather rancid High court these scoundrels make.

• Common Ground: a superb initiative by advertising supremo Martin Sorrell and Climate/Presidential expert Al Gore with Ban Ki-Moon the outgoing UN Secretary-general for the 6 main advertising groups to take on the UNSDG30 goals with broad themes:
o WPP: Gender (quite an easy one both strategically and creatively for agencies of the scale and skill of WPP – whether the Norway 40% role, or a Woman on Mars by 2030 under the UN flag or FGM/Child Marriage)
o Havas- Climate
o IPG - Water
o Omnicom – Education
o Dentsu - Health
o Publicis – Food (waste/source/share)
o And a cluster of other issues for other agencies such as Refugees and Immigration and Isolation/Separation
• I’ve already raised Surin School Charity with Omnicom as ideal for case study and promotion
• And, without, unravelling all the UNSDG30 goals and c.170 sub-goals, certainly goals 8-12 are omitted so far but ideal for agency consideration, whether Sincerity or not, in terms of consumption, sustainable economies and cities etc
• Common Ground is a massive initiative that the ad agencies – with their clients - are leading on and need your support over the next 15 years: more later
• While, as I’ve written before, there are some major gaps in the UNDG30 goals: Space, War and more effort needed on killers such as tobacco: 5M deaths every year and Cancer: 8M deaths every year and 39M blind people globally. Issues I’ve highlighted with Discovery Science Park and all 130 University Chairs for Cancer, Cataracts, DNA etc required

• A really superb effort though by WPP and the main ad agencies: more later but look out for dynamic brands in UK supermarkets near you such as Lucky Iron Fish in Cambodia and Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap and handwashing in Ethiopia

• Interesting research on #STEM that physics is boys’ 4th most favourite subject and 19th for girls, while 46% of UK schools don’t send any girls to study physics (never mind brain surgeons or rocket scientists) – a massive failure for education and pharma #STEM

Time for Change

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