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Re-booting Britain

Although Boris Johnson attempted to deflect the fact that Britain has systematically degraded its levels of food security over decades, people were more persuaded by the continuing food shortages in 2022 and the so-called ‘Andrex Wars’. Strategies to pay lorry drivers extra by commercial companies backfired after it became obvious that these were taking staff away from NHS ambulance drivers and critical services. In any case, smart young people who saw the future did not want to take up careers as lorry drivers as they saw the advent of driverless trucks in 2028. Some hauliers upgraded to LHV rather than training new HGV drivers. The trucks were more efficient, with lower GHG emissions per tonne transported. The combined effect of Brexit and the unattractiveness of the jobs meant that Britain’s food and goods shortages became normalised. Despite the protestations of the remaining few Brexiteers that ‘shortages would make men of us’, most real men and women saw a return to WWII supply chains as a backward step for Britain and began to realise just how harmful Brexit had been.

The mainstream media became more fickle as a result of realising that they had backed the wrong horse with Brexit. GB News appointed a Brexit correspondent in 2023, whose sole job was to identify problems caused by Brexit. In truth, it was a desperate move as audience numbers crashed following Nigel Farage’s decision to move to Monaco ‘ for health reasons’. Dominic Cummings gradually continued his journey of attacking the Conservative Party to the point where he released a book in 2023 about the critical mistakes from 2017 – 2023 in Government Brexit Policy. The book ‘My Brexit Mistake’ was a revelation in so far as Cummings openly criticised the implementation of Brexit, saving himself from being the subject of attention, by saying that his vision had been perverted by useless politicians. In 2022, The Daily Mail, Sun and Express began open warfare on Brexit and the Government that caused it. They held back at backing Keir Starmer and the Labour Party though, preferring to focus on their audience and casting themselves as supporting the people and not the politicians.

After a complete meltdown of the Conservative party in 2027 and the removal of the Brexit ultras from power with some being imprisoned, the PPP finally got elected in 2028 and began the business of Rejoining the EU. This was preceded by the so-called Zimmer Riots by pensioners, after free prescriptions were removed in 2026 on the road to privatisation of the NHS. The tipping point occurred after two pensioners glued themselves inside No 10 Downing Street on a visit of a delegation of elderly citizens to a VE Day commemorative dinner on 8th May 2025. This had been preceded by a series of wildcat strikes in the NHS. One or two very memorable protests had been dubbed ‘Crapping for Carers’ after a series of sporadic E-Coli outbreaks had occurred in hospitals due to water purification problems. An outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Medway Maritime Hospital also claimed 735 lives. It seemed that lowering standards had entirely predictable effects which were not obvious to PM Sunak.

Never Ready

By 2023, the implications of Britain’s decision to leave Europe’s internal energy market started to become visible. Initially, it was simply steep rises in electricity bills. People were asked to remove additional lightbulbs from their homes by Grant Shapps who had become Minister for Power in 2023. Restrictions were also imposed on commercial buildings and corporate premises and these were floated on the general ambition of environmental need rather than Brexit-induced desperation. Self-appointed wardens sprang up in some areas who were referred to as ‘Mr Hodges’ with their call ‘put that light out’ taken from Dad’s Army.

The ‘Build Back Better’ initiative was confounded by hyper-inflation in the building industry and shortages of materials that led to a stop-start building cycle. Builders were initially happy about it as demand for their services increased and they could to some degree name their price. However, it paid back in terms of unaffordable homes and unemployment in the sector. Attempts by Alok Sharma, Minister for Reconstruction, to slash safety standards, remove listed building status, occupy the greenbelt and increase hours in the industry, were met with mass disapproval. As a result, many new housing developments were ‘never ready’.

Bluff, Bluster, and Bust

London made a bid for independence in 2030 as news that the UK economy slipped from No 4 in 2015 to No 11 in 2029. This had been preceded in 2028 after the UK Brexit economy finally tanked. The Mail reported the headline ‘England sick as a Brexit dog’.

The rot had started much much earlier when Rishi Sunak removed the triple pension lock in 2022. Although originally stated as a temporary measure, it became a permanent one as the astronomical bills for Brexit mounted up. This produced a generation of pensioners that were effectively living on the breadline, unable to support children and grandchildren, selling off their homes to pay for retirement and private care homes and increasingly privatised healthcare. This was compounded by further lowering of student loan thresholds which would see a generation of young people living below the poverty line, stagflation due to Brexit, as wages levelled off and National Insurance increased. Working people struggled to get well-paid jobs. Brexit economists struggled to find diversions to point the finger for Britain’s problems elsewhere but the underlying logic of high structural costs and declining economic activity defined our early years of so-called freedom. Things became so bad in 2024 that some people in UK insisted on being paid in Euros. The Lugano Convention had still not been signed by 2026 but Britain continued to rely upon services to drive its economy, yet Lugano prevented the UK from thriving in a post-Brexit world. Save for an uptake in food production which happened as a necessity after The Hunger Games in 2022 with ‘conscription’ of 18 year-olds to work on farms, Britain was broken.

The new EU tax avoidance scheme came into force on January 1st, 2022. Brexit supporters started to become angry that it meant that Amazon et al had to pay tax in the countries they operated in within EU countries, whilst Britain became a haven for companies who wished to avoid tax. This meant that people were exploited at work to even greater levels than before as compared with employment practices in more progressive countries in Europe. Thus, the dream of Brexit became ever more distant as the realities of deregulation began to become visible.

Contributory factors to the decline of Britain as a world economic power began quickly after Brexit, with a vote for Scottish independence in 2023, proposals for Irish unification in 2025, and a decision by Wales to seek independence in 2027. Their economic contributions to the Treasury disappeared too, although Boris Johnson tried to hold back Scottish independence by moving UK public service agencies out of Scotland. However, Scotland had produced a detailed plan to unite the people and take things forward, profiting from having the best of both worlds; a land border to England and a place in a market of 500 million people. This would spawn the development of international travel hubs in Edinburgh, financial centres in Glasgow alongside traditional industries and a properly sustainable community in the highlands and islands of Scotland. Once the contagion began, it was unstoppable, with London seeking to make itself a Crown Dependency and Cornwall, Merseyside, The North-East, Birmingham, and Greater Manchester asking for Regional Parliaments.

In other disruptive and unexpected events, cyber currency became regulated as the Bitcoin economy collapsed in 2025. Jacob Rees-Mogg lost everything in 2024 in the Sterling Crisis, after overplaying the markets with his financial trading company. The Daily Express headline said ‘How the mighty have fallen’, whereas The Sun ran with ‘Mogged off’. The Brexit illusion of Singapore on Thames came back to bite people where it hurt most. Nevermore had bluff, bluster and bust made more sense to the blustering blowhards of Brexit.

Rough Trade

Meanwhile, Brexit trade deals failed to make up for EU losses. The widely vaunted £39 billion savings paled into insignificance when compared with the costs of doing ‘fire sale’ deals, to save face in the wake of ‘Britastrophe’. ‘The Truss’ talked confidently of conquering the US, China, The Far East, and other blocs, but the harsh reality was hard to avoid. The Australian trade deal whose advantages to the UK amount to 0.02% of GDP after 15 years was not noticeable. The tariff cuts gained were worth £1 per UK household per year. For comparison, the UK Australia deal was worth £14 billion as compared with £660 billion for the EU. It became obvious that the Australian deal had the side effect of lowering of UK standards for meat and inflicted lasting and increasing damage to the UK beef industry.

By 2025, Britain had failed to secure trade deals with US, as it became clearer that Northern Ireland had been sacrificed for ‘the greater good’ of keeping up appearances regarding Brexit. Instead, in 2022, the Foreign Secretary announced trade deals with Moldovia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, and The Marshall Islands. Beneath the bluster of the headlines, most of these were ‘cut and paste’ jobs of existing arrangements with no additional value for Britain and considerable upside for participating nations. The net worth of these trade deals barely registered on UK GDP although they were trumpeted at the Festival of Brexit, now a low-key affair in Bradford comprising a model railway layout of HS2, a few street stalls, and some food banks.

Boris Johnson dubbed the new era as ‘adapting to scale’ but it was hard to hide the realities in so far that many of these states wanted market access to the UK and freedom of movement as parts of a trade deal. The immigration ‘problem’, far from being solved, actually became more pronounced with an ageing British population and a growing demand for social services, care, and healthcare.

At the same time, the European Union continued to balkanise its structures, accepting Albania into membership in 2027, setting strict conditions on human rights and democracy for Turkey to join five years from 2028, forging major links with China and playing a major role as a bridge between the US and Eastern empires. They did this whilst maintaining stability amongst the 27 EU partners, against the odds predicted by Nigel Farage et al. The EU began to emerge as one of the few players with sufficient size to face down mega corporation’s demands to avoid tax, and this improved its image in the eyes of those who had seen it as an ‘evil empire’. Rather The European Union became a force for good in the world and some of its much-criticised decision-making processes a little more nimble in the process. It was one of the few things it had to thank Brexit for.

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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