26 June 2016

On Friday I was disappointed with the result of the EU referendum. With polls giving the Remain Campaign a significant lead, complacency appears to have played a big part in the result. It’s a lesson to us all that nothing is ever over until the final whistle blows.


Image from BorisWatch

As the result was revealed I was going to write about life being as good or as bad as you make it and about how playing rugby taught me that rules change and we learn to adapt and play within them. Now, having had a few days to try to get my head around the decision, it is the time to do just that.

So what’s next? How do we move forward from this, to make the most of the situation? The markets are in chaos, the pound is all over the place and the Leave campaign has readily admitted to lying about numbers, specifically those relating to the NHS.

On top of that, we now no longer know who will be leading our country. Our Prime Minister has made the same move that he did for most of the campaign – he’s locked himself away, moving out of the firing line by stepping down. The Leader of the Opposition has been hit with a mass walkout and a vote of no confidence and Nigel Farage is so happy with himself, taking credit for the 17 million that wanted ‘out’ as if they all followed him personally.

So will Boris be the man for the job? He has certainly put himself forward for it. A tweet on Thursday night summed it up quite well, saying that Boris has risked a million jobs for the sake of one – his own.

Sadly, this means that, once again, it’s all about the politicians; it’s all about Boris, it’s all about Farage. We’re not focussed on our country’s needs.

David Cameron has caused the biggest distraction in his time as Prime Minister: when you look back to the Scottish referendum, and there was the election, and now this. There’s another leadership battle to come and, no doubt, a second Scottish Referendum as well as the threatened Irish referendum. The country just doesn’t need this. For one thing, the business community needs confidence to ensure the taxes from their profits remain in tact.

Instead of focusing on steadying the ship ahead of some of the stormiest waters we’ll ever encounter, we are once again internalising and bickering over politics.

It seems that it is up to the leaders of industry to make sense of everything, to set the example. British people are extraordinarily resourceful. We came out of the 2009 recession and I am certain that we can withstand whatever is around the corner, but it is just a shame that we have no strong leadership figure to look to for support and reassurance. On Friday £2TRILLION was wiped off global markets across the board.

If this doesn’t raise an eyebrow for even the most hardened Leave campaigner, nothing will.

None of the Leave politicians came forward on Friday to positively celebrate the future of our nation. The celebrations – mainly from Farage’s corner – were focussed around “his result” in winning the campaign, not celebrating our future. Not reassuring the half of the country who did not see the result for which they had hoped. Nothing to close the divide.

It’s shortsighted behaviour to gloat and it’s a sign of a weak leader if you are unable to be magnanimous in victory.

Then to see our own Prime Minister announce that he is stepping down was simply extraordinary. Ex-Etonian Cameron showed the weakest trait of leadership: to run away when the going gets tough. What example does that set to a country who are looking to him in times of huge uncertainty? It’s little wonder many people are saying we are doomed! It’s like the captain abandoning ship!

Cameron agreed to the referendum but then didn’t put his heart and soul into it. Worse still I think he’d given up long before the results were announced. Assuming they would steal an easy victory. Hearing his voice break in his final words of his speech outside number 10 on Friday showed whilst he was putting on a brave face, he was clearly a broken man.

I’d also go as far to say that too much fear has been created around this campaign. It’s a clever marketing tactic and one that Trump is using to great effect across the pond. But, now that we have made our choice, we need to move on from that fear.

So, what’s the answer?

We carry on. We’ve all seen the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters. It’s the British way. It’s how we ensure, as much as possible, that this Brexit becomes something positive. Whilst we can’t control our politicians – that much is clear from the campaigns – we can control our own behaviour.

I am a strong believer in the power of intention, in setting goals and in focus. I believe that we will make this country greater regardless of setbacks and, whilst I believe personally we have made the wrong choice as a country, my personal beliefs are irrelevant and we have to make the best of what lies ahead.

With ever-decreasing alternatives – thanks to an insipid Labour leader and a fast-retreating Cameron – Nigel Farage is hoping to arm-wrestle another old Etonian, Boris, for the keys to the Number 10 door.

I am hoping we can avoid the unpleasantries of Farage’s immigration rhetoric and the Nazi-esque marketing. I believe that it comes down to us to lead ourselves; to ignore the scaremongering, the hatred, the racism and the xenophobia, and once more settle our differences and move on.

I honestly believe that if you’d have done this vote at any other time, with normal passionate leaders who are committed to their cause, the outcome would have been very different. Unfortunately, I don’t believe either Cameron or Corbyn ever truly stepped up to the plate to compete head on with the guerrilla marketing of the Leave campaign.

As I said on Friday, I firmly believe that the real damage will be caused by international businesses who want to stay connected to Europe who will either leave the UK or put their future investment into Europe instead of here. We may not see the impact of the lost business and lost opportunities for several years to come.

It’s worth pointing out, for those of you in favour of the Leave campaign, whilst you have won the referendum, only time will reveal the true identity of who was right and who was wrong.

Before gloating and poking fun at the supporters of remaining in Europe, the “remainers” purely want a stronger UK just like you. Our vision of what we believe guarantees us a stronger Europe was simply different to yours and still differs to yours. Yes we live in a democracy but people are still allowed to be disappointed with the outcome. None of us will really know who was right or wrong until the uncertainty in the UK’s leadership, the economy and politics plays out.

Winning the referendum does not make you right. We will have to wait and see and pray that the economic experts who predicted trouble and tough times ahead were wrong.

With trillions knocked off the global markets in 24 hours, I don’t think anyone can accurately predict the real impact for us, Europe or the rest of the world.

It’s a big message we’ve sent to the world. Britain is saying that we want to be on our own, even though that’s only a tiny majority. It’s the exact opposite to how I feel personally. Business and life is about collaboration, about working together, about being connected.

My goal was and always will be to continue to develop and grow UKFast, the Manchester economy, and the digital economy across the country, just as much as if we had voted to remain.

We can’t do much about what we may have lost or about the uncertainty, but we can do our utmost to keep our economy going, to drive business forward and to make Britain as great as humanly possible. If there’s one thing we can do today, whatever your feelings on the result of the referendum, it is to start making a concerted effort to buy British. This is one action that strengthens us as a nation above anything else.

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