Bruising Times!

Friday 15 March 2019

It’s been a bruising week quite literally for me. My right foot is a black and bloody mess after an electric till fell upon it, corner-first, on Monday. My trusty Toyota, Windsor, has a nasty bump after a collision with another car on Tuesday. And on Thursday, in a hurried attempt to beautify myself ahead of Saturday night, I managed to get hair dye in my eye and have spent today observing the world through, a ghastly combination of, one green and one very red eye! Like most of us, what I have been observing are the latest rounds of Brexit votes and they really do look brutal! My scrapes this week have really painful but I know that they will heal or be repaired before too long. The bruises of Brexit…I’m not so sure…

I’ll admit, I wish that the referendum had never happened, but it did and so I have thought about how I will cope. I have looked into the impact of Brexit for my family, but it’s an uncertain picture. Many advisory sites concentrate on changes to holiday travel and Euro-Sterling exchange rates, but I’m not losing any sleep over those. They seem inconvenient but solvable issues. Economic experts anticipate price rises and shortages, and I find these much more worrying, but again I am used to financial pressure and having to think about costs and logistics all of the time, so I think that my household will adapt. What has been a shock has been the emotional drama of this saga and the disintegration of relationships within Westminster as well as between MPs and the rest of the nation. I am struck by how horribly apt the media’s analogy with divorce, which I found highly irritating at first, has proved to be.

Most of the debate is focused upon our economic prosperity, but I hypothesis that, akin to the messy financial decisions in a divorce, if we approach these negotiations with our game face on, our research done and our data ready, it will eventually sort itself out. It’s the emotional scars that will be so much harder to repair, as indeed they are in any marriage breakdown. How do we rebuild trust in our political leaders both within the House of Commons and outside, when through a colossal failure of leadership, they have neglected to engage and communicate with many of the key stakeholders in these hugely important decisions, seemingly because … it’s too much like hard work? Teresa May signalled this, with her decision to call a General Election in 2017. ‘Yes, Teresa, it would have been easier to bludgeon through you own vision of Brexit with a majority, but finding the best solution isn’t always about finding the easiest solution!’ A golden rule of leadership is that to effect real change, you need to ‘take people with you ‘. It’s time consuming, it requires you to listen as well as speak, it requires patience and flexibility, but … it’ the only way!

Teresa May’s approach has done the reverse and, in consequence, she has lost the loyalty and support of even her own MPs. Look at Parliament, torn apart, divided, fracturing and rocking with instability before our eyes. Will it ever be the same again? Even more significantly, I can see no evidence of engagement and debate with the wider public. The despair and the sense of betrayal and dis-empowerment that led to so many voting to leave the EU in the first place, have we addressed this? The uncomfortable debate about immigration and society’s view of the UK multi-racial population, have we had this debate? I am not sure that we have and I worry, far more than I do about having a few less Euros to my pound, that it is a ticking time bomb.

So how will I prepare for Brexit… I think I’ll just know that I have the resilience to survive it economically! How will I try to keep smashing life as a single parent? By trying really hard to communicate with, listen to and engage all family members in the tricky and sometimes difficult conversations that can only make us stronger….that’s possibly far easier said than done!

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