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Re-booting Britain

This article is taken from a forthcoming book about Brexit and steps to Rejoin the European Union. It was developed from consultations with people from right across the world in 2021 and is offered as a piece for discussion and dialogue. The piece is necessarily long but please bear with me, including some anglo Saxon references.  Check our books out here.

During 2021, I worked with over 100 people of all persuasions across the world, to develop some plausible scenarios for our eventual re-admission to join the European Union. Scenarios are a strategic planning tool that describe ‘the history of the future’.  Originally developed by Royal Dutch Shell in the 1970s for long-range business planning they are a tool that enables us to ‘prepare to be prepared’.  A good scenario is not so fantastic that it is discounted as science fiction, nor is it so close to current reality as to be discounted as being ‘boring’. The political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental scenarios we developed are presented here as a series of stories an aid to your own thinking about how we might bring about our re-admission to the EU which we examine later.

I guarantee that they will be both accurate and of course faulty, as we indulge in the dangerous game of making predictions about a disruptive and mercurial situation. The many moving parts in these scenarios may of course interact in different ways. Nonetheless, the group considered these to be plausible routes and journeys which will set the tone in terms of responses to external events.

Breadline Britain

By 2031, the impact of The Brexit Hunger Games had been fully felt through civil unrest, the fragmentation of traditional politics, and the formation of The People’s Progress Party (PPP), formed from the fragments of Labour, Lib Dems, the influence of powerful individuals such as Gina Miller, a merger with The Green Party and Memoranda of Friendship with the independent Governments of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and The European Union. Although The PPP could not stop the damage done by Brexit, Brexit carnage had eventually unified the people against the remnants of the Conservative Party, allowing a return of some of the more moderate conservatives to public life. This took place after an attempted takeover by Jacob Rees Mogg and following the worst riots ever seen on the streets of Britain in 2022, after the impact of Brexit on food supplies, gas, and electricity supplies, the three-day week, drinking water safety issues and availabilities of goods and services previously taken for granted. One of the earliest acts of the PPP was to prosecute various culture carriers of Brexit, assisted by The Good Law Project. In 2026 a group of these people were jailed for various offences, including Boris Johnson, Mark Francois, Nigel Farage, Lord Bethel, Daniel Hannan, and Priti Patel.

The PPP was formed in 2023 in a complete volte-face of traditional politics. People were selected for office, based on rigorous selection methods and then elected by people’s assemblies. Whilst the party had some politicians drawn from the best of the crop, it was formed from people from business, the arts, community leaders, public figures and so on. This was informed by the insight that some celebrities and sportspeople were more skilled and popular than Westminster politicians. However, this was no populist uprising. The PPP insisted on informed democracy, fought the election in 2024 on some old-fashioned ideas about truth, fairness, trust, reforming politics and healing the country. They won a majority of votes but lost the election to the Conservatives due to the existing First Past The Post (FPTP) system, which Labour had failed to confront and which eventually led to the breakup of the Labour party. The PPP’s meteoric rise was based on some very good campaigning, based on an ‘Enough is Enough’ message and a promise to make a Better Britain in a Better Europe through Better Politics. This included plans for electoral reform. It had become clear that the European Union felt they were better off without Britain at the table and, although they had left the door open to rejoining the EU, it would come with some important pre-conditions. The most important one was for a complete removal of the Brexit ultras from power, to avoid a ‘Hokey Cokey Brexit’ i.e. an in / out / shake it all about the approach to EU membership. Other items such as Schengen and Euro membership were negotiable depending on whether they felt that our standards of democracy were acceptable and the degree to which English exceptionalism and cakeism had been removed from the political culture. Some former Brexiteers hid in the shadows rather like people did from 1975 until 2016.

Breadline Britain tipped over in March 2022, when children were seen crying in the aisles of Dudley Tesco, as their parents fought over the last packets of frozen chicken nuggets, Pampers and Haribo, brought about by lorry driver shortages and lack of Carbon Dioxide supplies. An angry woman was heard to say ‘I voted to get my country back, but not for a chicken run and nappies. I was duped’. Once Brexit food import restrictions kicked in on January 1st, 2022, the situation rapidly deteriorated. Shortages were not limited, sporadic, and selected. They were continuing, occasionally deep and they touched everyone in strangely different ways. Still, one or two leave voters celebrated the Blitz spirit, egged on by Nigel Farage who continued to claim victory over imperial measures, something we have had throughout our EU membership. Laura from Basildon won a prize on ‘Come Dine Without Me’ and went to No 10 Downing Street. She was reported as saying ‘I’m actually not that hungry’, when having an austerity lunch of Pease Pudding and Faggots with Boris Johnson.

Government plans to mitigate foreign lorry driver shortages due to Brexit backfired badly into 2022. The 2000 army HGV drivers diverted to deal with the 100 000 foreign lorry driver shortage were quickly rediverted to deal with the Winter of Discontent, which emerged because of the food and utility shortages and rationing of specific items. Attempts by food retailers to up HGV driver wages to £55 000 were of course welcomed by lorry drivers. However, it quickly became apparent that this would ‘drive traffic’ around the supply chain of drivers, as some refuse collectors, ambulance drivers, HGV drivers in other sectors, etc. decided that they fancied a better wage. It simply created deficits in other areas and more disruptive effects. For example, waste was not collected in certain parts of Britain. The initial reaction of the public to the ‘Keep on Trucking for Britain’ campaign was positive but turned sour quickly, as people realised impacts on prices, NHS services and rotting food in bin bags full of custard.

A tipping point in the Brexit debate was the so-called sporadic ‘Pigs in Blankets’ famine of December 2021 where frantic parents fought for chipolatas in supermarkets after the supply chain broke down. Preceded by a number of marches for and wildcat disturbances at food depots in Britain, Jason Matthews (son of Bernard Matthews) was asked to join a Government taskforce with Ian Botham and Roger Daltrey on the future of turkeys for Christmas. Botham promptly attempted to blame farmers for the problem and was squewered by Matthews, who was heard to say ‘Bootiful’. Meanwhile, M&S Chair and former Conservative Party MP Archie Norman eventually caved in and said ‘This is totally down to Brexit. Nothing to do with COVID and the product of a party I was once proud of, but which has now put Brexit ideology above pragmatism’. For the first time, the underground chasm in the Tory Party was exposed.

But Britain was not beaten. Boris Johnson, buoyed up by the birth of his second/twelfth son, Winston, whipped up enthusiasm for British Bulldog Spirit and initiated a new scheme called ‘Grow for Britain’, where house owners were given a £50 grant to convert their gardens to allotments, using Afghans as live-in labour, as part of their cultural conversion. Johnson appeared on Gardener’s World in a project with Monty Don to convert the No 10 Rose Garden into a cabbage patch after the scandals about Partygate. This was swiftly followed by the delivery of Winston to offset people’s thoughts about food shortages. In real life, however, the British people found that micro-farming celeriac and cabbages were not popular, especially in the middle of winter. They were also too preoccupied with parochial concerns to celebrate ‘royal babies’.

Brits, freed from lockdown restrictions and loaded with cash sought to unload their excess financial baggage by holidaying in Europe and beyond in 2022 and 2023. But they faced a new problem. Sterling. In 2022, Sterling had parity with the Euro and in 2023, with the dollar, due to Britain’s new standing in the world as a third country. Although some continued with their holidays, Rishi Sunak introduced restrictions limiting the amount of money taken on holidays to curb the Sterling crisis. The Daily Express was unable to blame the problem on Johnny Foreigner and used the headline ‘Pounded by Brexit’. Queues at passport control when the EU channel was absolutely empty made holidaymakers irate, aside from the hassle and £30 per family charge to go into Europe. But most staycation holidays in Britain were out of reach financially for many people, as prices were hiked due to supply and demand considerations.

Can’t get no

Shortages continued at a deep level for two more years until 2024, but they never actually went away completely, despite the Government’s attempts to incentivise farmers to grow more crops rather than animal feed. Some items simply disappeared from shelves. Many were unexpected, such as bleach, diagnostic tests, Pesto, tonic water, sun-dried tomato paste, and some medicines for rare critical medical conditions. As with all crises, human ingenuity finds a way. If an out-of-stock item was discovered in a particular town on a given morning, all the stock would be gone by 9 am and then sold on the black market. ‘Only Fools and Horses’ became the reality in trading scarce goods and every village had a character known as Del Boy. Clandestine banana trading was used as a kind of proxy to preserve community spirit as Del liked to say “Ave a Banana” to keep the customers satisfied when things they wanted were out of stock. The Police noted a small rise in looting, not of money or property, but of vegetables from gardens. All the while Boris Johnson refused to accept humanitarian aid from the EU during the UK ‘hungry gap’. This is the few weeks, usually in April, May, and early June, after the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest.  Boris Johnson continued his campaign of deflection into 2023 after he swapped Carrie up for a debutante who was working as a media relations executive at The Daily Express. This followed Carrie’s failure to host a fourth child for the Johnson dynasty and Stanley Johnson’s unfortunate declaration on GMTV that she was ‘barren’.

Little things seem to irritate more than the big-ticket items. Whilst people seemed prepared to shrug at the £37 billion wasted on fictional PPE and the 150 000 unnecessary COVID deaths, they found queuing at airports almost intolerable whilst EU citizen lanes were empty. Even more humiliating was when it was discovered that the EU’s new satellite system Galileo made GPS navigation much more accurate. This had serious implications for driverless cars and HGV’s into 2027. Insurance companies started to offer discounts to drivers who had installed Galileo instead of the UK satellite system as the gold standard for driverless vehicles. British citizens were able to access Galileo from the EU on a paid-for basis, much to the annoyance of PM Truss who had tried to over-rule access but was thwarted by a class action from the insurance industry supported by The Good Law Project.

Peter Cook
Peter Cookhttp://www.academy-of-rock.co.uk/
PETER leads Human Dynamics, offering Business and Organisation Development. He also delivers keynotes around the world that blend business intelligence with parallel lessons from music via The Academy of Rock. Author of and contributor to twelve books on business leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, and Harvey Goldsmith CBE. His blends his three passions are science, business, and music into unique inspiring keynotes based on the art of storytelling. His early life involved leading innovation teams for 18 years to develop life-saving drugs including the first treatments for HIV/AIDS, Herpes and the development of Human Insulin. 18 years in academia teaching MBAs and 18 + years running his businesses. All his life since the age of four playing music. Peter won a prize for his work from Sir Richard Branson after his mother claimed he was a Virgin birth. He now writes for Virgin.com.

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