The UK voted to leave the European Union. I understand the sense of triumph that accompanies that statement. I understand the determination from some quarters to “take back control” and all the other promises that were made and implied by the “Leave” campaign.
But does it have to be like this?
Westminster appears completely unprepared for the complex negotiations this entails. One week we have detailed impact assessments, the next we don’t. Free trade deals are promised as soon as we leave, then they aren’t. Our politicians and press proclaim Brexit Britain is booming, while conveniently ignoring the fact we haven’t left yet.
Setting aside the hardline Brexiteers who would want us to leave tomorrow, the overwhelming impression I get from those I speak to and monitor is we’re not ready as a nation for this momentous change.
There isn’t a clear and communicated strategy from the Prime Minister on what we hope to achieve as a nation.
There isn’t a clear “what’s in it for me” position that goes beyond high concepts about sovereignty and “taking back control”. How Brexit will affect the individual citizen and change (improve) their life isn’t being communicated.
Individual departments are clearly unprepared for the work ahead. They’ve lacked the skills, resources and possibly direction to deliver what’s needed from the outset and continue to suffer.
The Government has been playing its cards close to its chest, behaving like the negotiations are a huge secret. This has made planning for the future incredibly difficult, with reassurances “it will all be OK” increasingly falling on deaf ears.
Weak leadership has been the dominant theme. From issuing Article 50 before the nation was ready to a mistimed General Election to failing to quell the infighting within her party, Mrs May has not delivered the strong and stable leadership that was promised. Even our European neighbours appear to have become exhausted by all of this.
My experience from business tells me the sensible thing to do is stop and reset. That doesn’t mean Brexit can’t happen, only that we enter into it in a better state of preparedness. Of course, a reset would mean withdrawing the Article 50 declaration and undoubtably cost Mrs May the premiership and create a period of political turmoil.
Then again, perhaps this is what we need to bring about real change and a sensible, coherent and well planned departure from the EU.