I have written before about the risks of Brexit. I have always believed that there were also opportunities. Everything would depend on the deal we got. I hope we do not fall off the cliff, as some would like.
Whatever happens in the end, there are issues arising from the process itself that I had not thought of, but I am now very concerned about.
The Risk to Government.
Brexit is taking up so much attention in Westminster and Whitehall, as well as in the media, that other issues are being ignored, or at least given far less attention than they deserve. This is likely to get worse rather than better for several years.
The Risk to Foreign Relations.
I do not believe all the hype from both our government and from the Continent. I am more concerned at the effect on ordinary people, here and abroad, of hearing all the rhetoric in the press and on social media. The loudest and rudest voices are likely to be remembered most. There is a danger of poisoning attitudes towards Britain among continental Europeans and even among people in other countries.
The anti-immigration lobby and the debate about EU citizens already in the UK is creating fear and a feeling of being unwelcome among many. It will probably make recruitment overseas more difficult. And whatever happens, we will need foreign workers to fill many jobs for a long time.
The Risk to Democracy.
The Hard Brexit lobby have been claiming an irrevocable and unchallengeable mandate from the British people. Judges have been called ‘enemies of the people’ and every attempt to maintain any of the benefits of EU membership are claimed to be defying this all-powerful mandate. MPs and lords who want to debate any aspect of the outcome or the process are called ‘remoaners’.
Just a minute! Only 52% of those who voted in the Referendum voted Leave. Do the other 48% have no right to criticise any aspect of Brexit?
I addition to that 48% you might like to think how many people voted Leave
- Because they believed we could still maintain substantial access to the Single Market
- Because they believed there would be 350 million pounds a week for the NHS
- Because they wanted to make a protest but never expected it to result in actually leaving
- Because the Remain campaign was so badly fought, making ludicrous claims.
If you make some allowance for any or all of the above, you might find the mandate for Leave is a bit thin.
What I am concerned about is that the Referendum result has been used as an argument to outweigh everything else. The job of MPs and ministers is to consider the detail of an issue, not just the soundbites. That job is being made almost impossible by the ‘will of the people’ argument.
So what about your business?
When you consider the risks in connection with any proposed change, do you include the risks the process of change will create, regardless of the costs and benefits of the final outcome?
- How will your clients, employees or other stakeholders be affected by the transition as well as by the resulting change?
- What effect will the process have on you?
Are there benefits as well as costs?
- Could you make the process a happy experience?
- Could consulting your clients and employees make them feel valued?
- Will they own the decision in the end?
- Is it an opportunity to bring in other changes you have had to defer?
If you are not sure, how about a Risk Management consultation on the process, even if you think you do not need one on the change itself?