9 June 2019

Talking about climate change and our impact on the environmentAs a nation, we’re at a crisis point. Brexit is still, as yet, unresolved.

Our Prime Minister is on her way out and no one in the House seems to be able to agree on anything, never mind on the separation terms of one of the biggest political departures in modern history.

Watching the D-Day service in France, was I the only one sad that we are breaking away from our European friends, who we’ve spent 75 years building relations with since the war?

Back in Britain, what happens now?

Whether you’re a Remainer or Vote Leave, there are some things that no one can ignore. Like the fact that the country is more divided than ever. I do often wonder if David Cameron had any idea of the impact on society that calling such a contentious vote would have.

I remember having dinner with him the week or so before the vote and he was resolute that he’d win and we’d be staying in Europe.

And now, people are angry, concerned, nervous, and views are becoming more extreme.

We’re in a climate of intolerance. Despite being an increasingly connected world, we’re undeniably becoming more insular.

I was at a dinner recently, at which former Prime Minister John Major spoke. Whilst he is clearly in the Remain camp when it comes to Brexit, he had some real concerns to share about the future of not only Europe but of further afield too.

He described how central politics is shrinking while the right and left are both growing – dividing us further. He also spoke of how countries are becoming increasingly protectionist, looking more into how they can better serve their own interests. This is clearly visible with both China and America.

The challenge with this is, of course, that there are some problems that cannot be tackled on their own. While countries pull away from a multi-lateral approach, that is actually what is needed most to tackle the huge global issues like climate change.

Saving the planet is not something that one nation state alone can do. Equally the progress made by one country can quickly be undone by another.

A bellow to a whisper

John Major’s view was very clear. We’re weakening our position by leaving the Union, and far from giving the country its own voice, we are in fact taking our country’s voice from a bellow to a whisper. From being an important part of Europe to a lone island. At the same time weakening Europe too as without the UK we are a smaller in population than the US.

At the same time, other global power players like America and China continue to assert their dominance. The threat of a trade war between these two could easily have a ripple affect across the rest of the world. Equally concerning is the ongoing issues between America and Iran which Major says presents a real risk of conflict.

Of course, Major’s point of view is just one in a sea of opinions and analysis, but his comes from a place of experience within the political world and foreign policy and he backs up his views with some very interesting, and in some cases alarming, facts.

Most concerning for me were his thoughts on the economy. Whilst he doesn’t predict an immediate crash, the research shows that a drop in growth of 1.5% is to be expected over the coming decade. When you look at how the NHS, schools and public services are struggling already, this is concerning to say the least.

Beyond the terrifying picture

He painted a terrifying picture to be honest. One where instead of uncertainty, we become an isolated nation of angry people who are, overall, worse off than we were before leaving the EU.

I do have to ask why were these conversations not happening before the vote? No one can say what impact hearing information like this from the Remain camp would have, but I have to wonder whether we would be in this position if the Remain camp had issued information from reliable, knowledgeable sources to show the potential damage that Brexit could have. Would that have been a winning counter to the NHS £350 million bus?

At this point though, that’s irrelevant.

What I do know is that we have to start looking toward the change we can make ourselves. Regardless of what’s happening in government, we are in control of our own behaviour. We can vote in elections, we have to do our best to contact and influence our MPs to push for the positive change we want to see, and we can support local charities and communities.

It’s easy to feel powerless when you look at the bigger picture like this and in many ways we are. But when you look at a local and community level, there’s a great deal we can do. Look around you. There’s poverty beyond imagination on our doorsteps, quite literally.

As the sun goes down over Manchester and other cities tonight, how many people are sleeping rough and fending for themselves.

One thing that John Major said that is frightening is that this last decade is the first since the war when our wealth as a nation, so people’s personal wealth, has not increased like the decades before with house increases, so with inflation millions of people in Britain are much worse off.

This is why he believes there is so much unrest. If everyone’s personal wealth is growing at a lower rate than inflation, this is a major problem (pun intended!). Even more worryingly, it’s not one that looks to be fixed anytime soon.

But rather than worrying about it, I personally believe you lift an economy by helping one person at a time. There is a saying, charity begins at home. There are so many generous people in the UK. It’s up to us to make a difference and try and do our level best to ensure that kids are going to school fed, and they have places to hang out after school and great schools to inspire them. This is not something that we can say is equal to all kids in the UK and until it is, we should not rest until we create a fair balance.

I believe better education is the only way to solve the problems we have in the UK right now and we should be looking long term and fixing the schools and education today so that the problems we are facing today are beginning to fix themselves in 15 to 20 years time.

If you want to get involved with some the work our teams do at UKFast and the UKFast Education Trust, there are lots of ways you can help. I don’t mean by donating money, just getting involved and helping with your time is probably the biggest way you can support some of the areas where we invest our time and money.

And, if you are not in Manchester, maybe you can start your own programme off to help in your local area.

One thing is for sure, the Brexit bubble that we have found ourselves in at some point has to burst. It has to end. Whether you want to be in Europe or out of Europe, there is one thing much more important and that’s the people who need our help now. Let’s stop arguing over something we cannot influence and start working together.

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