Guest piece by Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder & CEO of AngelNews and Pitching for Management.
In a difficult world, we are in a pretty good place. We speak the world’s lingua franca. In military terms at the very least, we retain our Special Relationship with the US but we have an implicit advantage too – we both speak English. The Commonwealth is tied to us, voluntarily, by bounds that stretch way beyond short term politics or economics. In terms of the European Union, we are in enough, but not too much. We retain our currency. Free movement of people has contributed to our economic strength far more than damaged it and we are free to travel and work abroad too. Our people are kept secure by the intelligence services and our own common sense, regardless of “borders”. Time has shown again and again that people living on the islands of Britain are the most innovative people in the world. We lead the world into the future.
In all honesty Europe’s annoyances have little impact, day to day, for most of us. Some of the blame attributed to Europe in terms of regulation are in fact attributable our governmental machine. For the weaker in society, Europe has done much to protect and enable. We make cars to match those produced in Germany; our financial services industry is world beating and is the most innovative and enabling in the world. We even do a pretty good job on food these days. You could argue that this is due to the hard work of business owners and their staff who use innovation to trade in the recognition that doing things better will help you to achieve.
The European Union, in ensuring peace in our time, has made the UK we know and saved us the costs, destruction and stasis that war inevitably brings. Were the Union to break down, and let’s face it, our departure could create the fissure that would cause it to crack apart, the rise of the far right and far left on the Continent would create tensions that could lead to war in the fighting times of our children and grandchildren. Physical war probably, economic war, almost certainly. The resurgence of even a hypothetical border across the country of Ireland could restore fighting within our own nation. The last thing the United Kingdom or its businesses need at this point in time is conflict or even near war.
The combination of trade and democracy underpin society.
We can never be sovereign economically if we want to trade globally. We would be subject to the terms of any and all trade deals. Being primus inter pares within the European Union, gives us power we cannot hope to match by negotiating alone. If we are no longer the most effective bridge into a market of 500 million people, there is no question that overseas powers and business will look for the next most effective one, and bypass us. Why would we even consider the risk of slowing down trade by creating political uncertainty, let alone filing for divorce with our largest economic trading partner?
Democratically, if we really put our minds and civil servants, politicians, academics, accountants, lawyers and business people to it, we could help to reshape the European Union to address the democratic deficit that, rightly, should concern all of its 500 million citizens and which still slows business too much.
How about for example getting the Council of Ministers together to agree that all legislation presented to the European Parliament must come up through the national parliament of a member state first? Or implementing a genuinely and public competitive entry process for jobs in the EC including, particularly, for Commissioners? We can lead the debate for a new vision for an ever better, not an ever closer, Union. In business we solve problems by thinking up solutions. Only the slackers give up and walk away.
Getting Europe “right” is one of the biggest opportunities available today for those who want a big challenge to overcome.
No business goes down in posterity for that or for achieving marginally cheaper goods or slightly higher profits. No business person in history is famed for just getting richer, especially when they are all richest beyond the wildest dreams of those starving today in the third world?
You take your place in history by doing something that makes the world a better place. Today’s duty is to make the UK a better place for people to live and work in, within the context of a better Europe. The rule of law ensures good order, it is vital because it underpins our ability to do business, but politics always, always gets in the way, sadly. The Referendum is a small distraction compared with the decades-long negative impact Brexit would have on our economy, ourselves and our trading partners.