@Wadds on uncertainty and life in the UK post-Brexit

In another guest post, I’ve asked the respected public relations industry figure Stephen Waddington to share his thoughts on Brexit. Strap yourself in for the read.

The vote for Brexit will have many consequences for the UK, including for its communications industry, argues Wadds (image source: http://www.fortune.com)

The lack of planning and political fallout from the UK’s European Referendum mean that Brexit will remain a work in progress for a long time to come.

Alex asked to me to draft a guest blog post reflecting on life in Britain post Brexit shortly after the European Union (EU) Referendum result at the end of June.

I dodged the opportunity initially, not because I didn’t have a view, but because for three or four weeks it was really difficult to make sense of what was happening in the UK.

It’s has taken me the summer to come to terms with the fact that the UK voted to leave the EU. I was convinced by conversations on Facebook and Twitter that UK citizens would vote remain. I was stuck in a filter bubble.

The Referendum divided the country. The remain campaign was based on rational argument; the Brexit campaign, by contrast, on emotion.

UK citizens used the Referendum as an opportunity to vent their anger at the political classes in London and Brussels. It exposed a split between London, Northern Ireland and Scotland which all voted remain and the rest of the UK which voted Brexit.

More than two months after the result we’re becoming used to living with the uncertainty. What Brexit means and how it will happen are both a work in process.

The Conservative Prime Minster resigned and was replaced without a leadership election. The Labour party remains in the midst of leadership election.

The new Prime Minister Theresa May has created a Ministry for Brexit led by Eurosceptic David Davis, and has appointed Brexit campaigners Liam Fox and Boris Johnson as trade secretary and foreign secretary respectively.

Both Davis and Fox are recruiting the small army of people needed to work on the exit negotiation with the EU. 1,250 positions have been created in trade and diplomacy.

The UK will have two years to negotiate its exit once it triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

In that time it will need to determine how to manage more than four decades of law that are entwined with the EU, and negotiate trade deals on an industry-by-industry basis with the 27 member states, and major countries around the world.

There’s also the issue of the free movement of people. Take back control [of UK borders] was a campaign slogan for the remain campaign.

It’s an issue that impacts the UK’s future trade agreements but also impacts UK citizens living in EU countries and EU citizens living in the UK.

People like markets don’t respond well to uncertainty. The government needs to move quickly to reassure people and investment that the UK remains a good place to both invest and build a career.

The UK is a centre of excellence for talent in the creative industries, including my own trade, public relations. I’m keen to see this remain the case.

The emergency budget, and recession, both predicted by the remain campaign haven’t happened. But UK currency shows no sign of returning to pre-referendum levels.

£1 was worth $1.50 on the day of the Referendum. Today the £ is trading at an average of $1.30. The foreign exchange markets have priced down UK assets by more than 15%. It’s the one area of absolute certainty.

The rest is yet to be seen.

Stephen Waddington is Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University. He blog at wadds.co.uk and you can connect with him on Twitter @wadds.

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