Okay, go with me for a moment. Brexit; what the world is talking about, apparently. It’s in the newspapers in every corner of the world. It’s risky and somewhat outrageous to many. Those that support it often take pleasure in the ‘riskiness’ of it and how it forces change, and hopefully progress. But ultimately, it has been the subject of millions of words and the topic discussed in hours and hours of airing time on TVs and radios from Canada to Sweden, and China to Moscow. This is before Brexit has even begun.
Suddenly, the U.K. is an interesting topic of conversation around the dinner table in almost every household in the world, even in houses containing family members that have never even visited the U.K. and have no personal or professional dealings with it.
Yes, it is absolutely plausible that it is purely because it is seen as a daring and bold course of action from a society that prides itself on being old fashioned, terrible at decision making (as decisions are normally the attempted output of a room full of waging wigs). However, all of a sudden someone has raised their hand, taken a stand and the world has taken notice.
I am not knowledgeable when it comes to political affairs, choosing to watch from afar with interest but not participate or have a strong opinion on the situation. Mainly because I empathise with both sides of the story and don’t see either perspective as been the whole solution. I believe this enables me to have a fairly objective point of view, not wrapped up in the ‘drama’ of it all.
Many others however prefer to engage on the subject and take this interest further. They actually make decisions on their own lives because of what they read in the papers and see on the news. Sometimes they don’t even know they are doing it. Admittedly, one of the reasons why I left the U.K. was indeed party due to Brexit, to maintain my european citizenship and ensure that I had my chance to move to Sweden which I had always wanted to do. There was no way I was going to let some MP in Parliament square dictate how I live my life. And many people have chosen to emigrate for that reason, some solely for that reason. There has indeed been a massive Brexit exodus in fact with many moving to countries such as Canada and in fact Sweden. Passport applications by British citizens rose in Sweden last year by 400%! They want to go to places where they feel they can receive a good quality of life without the drama and the political unrest.
However, it has come to my attention recently that there is a new trend emerging. The U.K. is indeed becoming more attractive to some, including the Chinese and the Russian. They are looking to escape their own regime and political instability and see England’s political issues as laughable in comparison. They see this as an opportunity to enter, inhabit and live the dream. The dream of English countryside, rural pubs and visiting the Ritz for Sunday afternoon tea. They want fresh air and fresh flowers, and somewhere to hide their money, and what better place than Britain.
The British brand has strengthened. It has become a commodity that people buy into. Nobody knows what will happen to the economy. However, time will of course tell. It seems from the point of view of the Chinese, it doesn’t make a huge difference. They have strong links with Europe anyway and are interested in the Technology industry in the U.K. They care little how the financial sector does in the City and care more for the opportunity for free international trade, a weak pound, and the opportunity to buy into the English dream, for themselves and their families. They want to offer their children the best education system, and many of the best universities in the world are in the U.K.
These are assets that will continue to be valued by people all over the world whatever the strength of the pound and the stability of the government. Whilst rural China is beautiful, the assets consist of unattractive factories located in industrial towns suffocating in a smog cloud. The U.K. has Buckingham Palace, the Queen, English cream tea, a beautiful princess with two beautiful bouncing young princes.
Arguably, the U.K. has one of the strongest brands of the world. For a tiny island in a big world, people know about it and are interested in what it does and how it survives. The brand began organically many years ago and so has an identity based on history and society.
The recent terror attack at Westminster yesterday further confirms this point. Britain has the attention of the world, sometimes good press and sometimes bad press. And that attracts positive and negative attention and unfortunately, suffers the pain of this level of exposure. My condolences go to all those affected.
It is most probably completely mad to think that Brexit is a PR stunt, and hence I think it is unlikely. However, you can’t argue the fact that, good or bad, Britain has got the attention of the world.
Let’s hope it stands tall and makes a difference.