As I See It
A rethink on Brexit has to be an option
Vince Cable, the leader-elect of the LibDems went so far as to say Brexit may never happen and there is certainly a groundswell of opinion supporting a second referendum.
The Westminster government seems to be making a good job of ensuring we have no plan and no idea how things might turn out which is making many people nervous. But is it realistic to overturn the will of the people?
Let’s start with the Scottish argument that Scotland should be treated as a special case. This simply doesn’t hold water. On that basis every street in Britain that voted to remain should also have an opt-out from the referendum. So let’s call a halt to that one.
The bigger picture concerns the legitimacy of the terms on which we all voted on 23 June last year. It was called to stop the Conservative party from splintering, so for that reason alone it was a bad move.
It was followed by a poor campaign from both sides, riddled with mis-information and downright deception.
As I stated here at the time, we were like students being asked to cram for an exam we didn’t expect to sit. Few people had a Scooby what it was really all about, and what the implications were of pulling out. It was, essentially, a vote on immigrant labour. And those most bothered by it won the day.
Because of the ‘immigration referendum’ we are now faced with leaving the single market, the customs union and a long list of other institutions that many Britons barely understood or even knew existed. They are now realising what it really means. This helps make the case for another vote based on a better informed electorate.
It could be argued that the opportunity to change our minds is the ultimate prerogative of being democrats. Having a nationwide debate to determine if we have got this right or wrong is another benefit.
That would be a good starting point. There is enough noise around this issue for such a discussion to take place before we head over the cliff.
Three cheers for the low pound
Let’s hear it for sterling’s slump. It is evident from recent data that we should be grateful for the low value of the pound.
Overseas visitors up, overseas investors in hotels up, exports of food and drink up. Manufacturers have also belated seen an uptick in sales abroad. All largely a result of the decline in the value of sterling.
It seems, however, that it doesn’t suit the agenda of those who’d rather claim other factors when things are going well.
In a report last week on the surge in visitors to Scotland the Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop hailed Scotland’s fabulous attractions and a campaign by VisitScotland.
Of course the country has some great destinations, and the marketers are doing a great job, but Ms Hyslop forgot to mention that visitors are currently finding Britain a cheap place to visit.
Investors are also finding the UK an appealing location. A report yesterday noted that they are helping to fuel an increase in hotel development.
Property developers will be pleased with these trends as the majority of major schemes depend on overseas money.
That’s why they urge the government to keep taxes low and regulation at a sensible level to ensure footloose capital continues to flow into the UK.
Investors have no geographic loyalty or sentimentality and will put their money only where they find the best returns.