With the season of compulsory good cheer behind us and 2018 safely consigned to history, Britain has been brought back to reality with a bump. Brexit is once again hogging the headlines and looms large over the New Year landscape. The gloomsters are back in charge of the asylum, and don’t we know it?
One thing’s for sure, as long as we remain disunited we will be playing into the hands of those facing us on the opposite side of the negotiating table. Worse still, if we concentrate only on reasons to be pessimistic we may never find the motivation to haul ourselves out of the hole this country has dug for itself. Might I suggest that, instead of tearing ourselves apart in search of people to blame for our woes, we divert more of our energy to considering the bright side? At the end of the day, it is for us, the citizens of the UK, to take responsibility for our future because, as we have been reminded recently, we can’t expect any favours from outside our borders.
Surprisingly enough, there are some fact-based reasons to believe that the road ahead may not be quite so bleak. First, while it is certainly true that the UK economy is not growing as fast as we’d hoped, the same applies also to the countries that make up the Eurozone. Germany and France are both in a similar position – largely as a result of the oil price and growing trade tensions with the US, which itself is facing an economic slowdown. The UK is not the ‘sick man of Europe’ that it once was, which is one of the reasons it is being made so difficult for us to exit the EU.
Our labour market is thriving, with 32m people in work and unemployment at a record low of 4%. Wages, too, are rising in real terms and are at the highest level for a decade. Britons are also switching jobs in record numbers: one in 40 workers (equating to 860,000 individuals) moved to a new job in the three months to end September last year – the highest number in Office for National Statistics’ records going back to 2004.
The cost of borrowing remains relatively low and access to finance has never been better, either for individuals or businesses. True, people are tending to be more cautious because of Brexit uncertainty, but house prices are easing which actually makes property more affordable for more people. SMEs, too, are putting record amounts of money on deposit rather than borrow to grow.
The point I’m trying to make is that, instead of dwelling on matters over which we have little control and which make us glum, maybe we should take the opportunity to put our imagination to more positive and creative use. ArchOver has helped scores of outstanding, ambitious SMEs to fulfil their dreams – we have the case studies to prove it. We would like to meet more people who believe in themselves, their staff and their business – the country’s real wealth creators.
Sadly, holding hands while we all sing ‘Rule Britannia’ is not going to save the day. What I am suggesting is that we stop moping around and put our minds to work to make a better future for ourselves. Prizes should go to those with the best ideas for a post-Brexit Britain and, to set the ball rolling, ArchOver would be happy to contribute a case of British sparkling wine. Seriously, answers on a postcard.
In the meantime, how about the big banks clubbing together to create a ‘Post-Brexit Recovery Fund’, perhaps supplemented by a few quid from the Big4 audit firms who also live off the wealth created by the UK’s real entrepreneurs? Now that, I’d like to see.