Ok, I promise this is my last Brexit piece. Promise.
I have been intrigued over the last couple of weeks about the behaviour of the sullen, humiliated, defeated media. They have become convinced that the end of the world is neigh. Furthermore the march of 40,000 pro-EU youngsters at the week-end was seen as some great cry for a re-think. I don’t think so – there were ten times more people for the anti-Iraq war march from what I remember.
The remainers have also cried foul that the Leave side told people lies whereas the remainers only told the truth. Lets just take a look at that shall we. Obama told us that we’d be at the back of the queue should we Brexit. He’s already rolled back on that. Osborne told us there’d need to be an emergency budget to deal with the terrible nature of Brexit. He’s rolled back on that as well. Tusk said there would be no favourable negotiation post-Brexit. He’s already rolled back on that. Juncker said the UK would be punished for Brexit. He’s already kinda rolled back on that (or basically was told by Merkel et al to wind his neck in!)
The truth is that both sides did whatever it took to win. Neither side covered themselves in glory. But the voters ended up seeing through all the lies.
I find it fascinating that people have been arguing for an over-turn of the democratic choice of the nation. I find it fascinating that the Remain side had all the power, money, media and establishment figures behind them……and they still lost! Furthermore more people voted for Brexit than for anything else in the history of British democracy!
I figured that I should end with a piece on what happens next? As I have been a vocal supporter of Brexit and that a lot of the recriminations from the Remainers has been about the lack of a clear plan on what to do I thought I would give my insight into what I would do. Have a read and let me know what you think!
NHS – now I know the Vote Leave side of the campaign made claims about directing the EU money towards the NHS. Now don’t all try to lynch me when I suggest we don’t do that! Why not? They way I see it is that once I’ve spent my £180 mllion a week on the NHS that’s it, its spent. Whereas if I use that money to re-energise our country’s business practices that will help us grow and prosper, then the increase in tax-revenues will be enough to direct towards the NHS (and other areas). I hope that makes sense?
Corporation Tax – well it appears that Osborn has stolen my thunder and called for a reduction to 15% in an effort to stop companies leaving and make us still attractive for FDI. I was going to suggest going one further and reduce it to a flat-rate 10% (lower than Ireland’s 12.5%) as an aggressive means to protect the tax-base and send the message to the world that we are pro-business. Now I know that there’ll be some sucking of teeth from people but my view is I’d sooner have 10% of something than 100% of nothing. If a company still wants to leave despite a 10% tax-rate then let them go.
Business Rates – Whilst corporation tax may help big business and maintain/create FDI we have to take notice of many of the reasons for Brexit vote in under-performing parts of the country. If you’re in a part of the country that you feel has lost out due to globalisation or lack of funding then what did you have to lose by voting out? Big companies may provide nice PR, but the reality is that real growth comes from the SME / start-up sector. To help with this I would use the money to back-fill councils so that they can remove business rates from small-businesses. Imagine if every SME in the country could afford to hire 1-2 extra people from not having to pay business rates? That’s the kind of growth we need.
Red-Tape Free areas. One of the hassles for SME and v small-businesses is the amount of red-tape required for operation. Furthermore if you do apply for grants there are a large number of hoops to jump through. Invariably most small businesses are too busy on their day-to-day survival to spend the time and energy to learn how to ‘play’ the system. In those under-performing parts of the country I would look to establish free-business zones that would provide subsidised offices/plants along with free business rates for companies setting up there. You provide the infrastructure in terms of HR/IT/Legal/Accountancy/Exporting support and just let them get on with growing and building a viable business.
R&D: Lets face it – our past as a great manufacturer is not coming back. The days of heavy industry are probably behind us. Where we do have an edge is in innovation and R&D. As the world pivots towards the east in terms of capital and initiative it becomes ever-more important for us to find and develop our competitive edges. One of those is R&D (across all industry spaces) and that is something that should be encouraged. We have great talent in this country – let’s do all we can to unleash it!
Do away with visas for all foreign students from Masters level education upwards. To help with the point above I would also do away with visa’s for students who wish to study in the UK from post-graduate level and above. Why? At present if your from the EU you can come here and study and live. Whereas from other non-EU nations you can study here, but as a general rule you only have 2 year visa post graduation. I would want to remove that. We want to attract the greatest brains from around the globe and encourage them to study here, and then stay, contribute and develop our R&D capabilities further. By doing it from the post-grad level you encourage those who’ve already demonstrated some application to education.
British Citizenship for existing immigrants. I notice today that German politicians have considered offering German nationality to any British people living in Germany. Well how about we do the same and offer anyone living in the UK to have British citizen-ship? If you’ve come here and made a life here and you’re working and contributing then why not allow citizen-ship for those people? The truth is that immigration is going to happen and as I said in my very first pre-Brexit vote piece, I have no issue with anyone who wants to come here and make a better life for themselves. In fact I welcome that. (Please don’t believe all the hype from a sullen, defeated, biased media that all Brexit-eers are racist bigots. Nothing could be further from the truth.) If you were here before 23rd June and you wish to stay and make a life here then you’ll be open to applying for British Citizen-ship
Re-engage with the Commonwealth. No, this doesn’t mean that I think that our commonwealth countries will just welcome us back with open arms. Nor is it me wanting to re-create the British Empire. Nothing of the sort. But its a great starting point for us to pivot away from a lethargic EU and towards a wider, more energised, global stage. It’s a starting place for us to re-energise our relationships with the entire world, rather than the narrow niche of the EU.
Get the skandies on-board. I would also start to re-engage with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. We have long historical links with these nations. They are also euro-skeptic as well. Then get Canada, Australia & New Zealand involved – they are also part of the 5 Eyes Agreement (where a good deal of our security and intel comes from). I said in one of my pre-Brexit pieces that I’d look at a North Atlantic Free Trading Area between Canada, UK, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden & Denmark. We have historical maritime trading links.
I think that’s enough for starters isn’t it? I have no doubt there will be plenty of people will read these and many will think “Pauls really lost it now – he doesn’t have a clue” and that’s fair enough. If people have better ideas than I’d be delighted to hear them. Now is the chance to grasp the nettle, in order to really re-shape our country for the 21st Century.
My only comment on the political situation is this. The political classes are tearing themselves apart because the world has changed – and they need to change to survive or die. But this is all being done without riots, guns or police brutality – this is a very British revolution! Furthermore it pleases me that of all the 5 candidates for the Tory leadership none are old-Etonians – the first time ever. Furthermore all of them spent some time at state-school. Is that not something to cherish and embrace? Is that not a sign of a change? Something to think about.
All thoughts and suggestions gratefully welcomed.
Now back to the markets. Trade well everyone!