Brexit. It’s now an actual thing. On 23 June 2016 the UK held a European Union referendum where the UK voted to leave the EU by 51.89% for leave to 48.11% for remain, a margin of 3.78%. This corresponded to 17,410,742 votes to leave and 16,141,241 to remain, a margin of some 1,269,501 votes. Phew! Talk about a close run thing. So much so that it proved to be too close for comfort and ended up dividing the country.
What began as a democratic process ended up in three and a half years of dither, delay, deadlock, and paralysis that had the world’s media and the UK electorate stare open mouthed at the ridiculousness of our parliamentary system where the opposition was able to continually disrupt the process of democracy in a bid to prevent the United Kingdom from ever leaving the European Union.
In 2017, in a bid to break the deadlock, the standing Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May (who had voted to remain in the EU) called for a snap general election which she very nearly lost, and as such was left in an even weaker political position where the process of Brexit was concerned. She was to later stand down as leader of the Conservative Party following the UK Parliament's repeated rejection of her Brexit withdrawal agreement, and in 2018 so began the premiership of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
To be fair to his predecessor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson couldn’t break the deadlock either, even after his repeated calls for a General Election the leader of the opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) was having none of it. Many on the right felt that Corbyn was unelectable and was simply backing away from an inevitable loss at the polls, while those on the left felt he was doing more good by keeping an election at arms length and throwing repeated spanners into the works of the government’s attempts to deliver on a democratic people’s vote. As Boris Johnson was to observe at the despatch box after calling out Corbyn for the third time: “Cow’s go moo; sheep go baaa; and leaders of the opposition call for general elections.” But even this level of goading would not budge Corbyn from his position, until something highly unusual occurred when somebody told Jo Swinson, the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats (who were campaigning to completely overturn the result of the referendum and keep the UK in the EU at any cost) that the balance of power in the House was so weak at the time that if she was to push for a general election she might actually come out on top and become Prime Minister.
This was probably the most ill advised piece of political advice that anybody could have come up with, but Swinson fell for it hook line and sinker and called out the government for a general election. Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour Party opposition now had nowhere to go. To back off for a fourth time, and this time in front of the now bolshy Lib Dems, would have been too much. They were cornered, and on the 12th December 2019 a general election took place that saw the misguided Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lose her seat, and the Labour Party suffer its most humiliating loss at the polls since 1935. The country had effectively turned blue overnight leaving the Conservative government with an overall majority in the House and now standing poised to take Britain out of the EU by 31 January 2020.
According to the PM he plans to roll out a “radical” programme that will “take our country forward with an ambitious One Nation programme to unite and spread opportunity to every corner of our United Kingdom and herald the dawn of a new golden age for the country.”
A new golden age eh? It sounds a lot like the title for a bad Sinbad movie - ‘Boris Johnson and the Golden Age.’ However, why not? The economy looks set to boom. On the night of the election the pound and shares surged with Sterling rising above $1.35 at one point - its highest level since May last year. The pound also jumped to a three-and-a-half-year high against the euro, while on the stock market, the FTSE 100 share index rose 1.1%, while the FTSE 250 - which includes more UK-focused shares - briefly hit record highs.
As far as I am concerned the whole ‘Brexit is going to trigger an economic meltdown and we’ll end up with maggots in our orange juice’ is nothing but yet another load of Y2K scaremongering old codswallop. Let’s face it, business can no longer hide behind the uncertainty of Brexit as an excuse not to invest. No more should we see printing companies using Brexit as an excuse not to buy a new printing machine, or to move into bigger premises, nor should we continue to see manufacturers in our industry holding back on decisions to explore new market opportunities or indeed new territories.
With government investment comes paperwork, and where there is paperwork there is always a need for printing. The UK is also now officially ‘open’ for business. We want car manufacturers to set up here. We want overseas investment in technology to set up here. We want new jobs to be created through the establishment of foreign investors - because for every new company and business that is formed in the UK there is always a need for printing. We should embrace Brexit as a wonderful opportunity to boost the country’s extended need for print.
Brexit is going to be a really good thing for the business of printing in our country and as such there is no better time than now to invest in new equipment and new processes, and I fully expect to see record numbers of PSPs attending print shows such as Sign & Digital UK this year as they look to find new ways to embrace the Golden Age of Printing.