Monday, 5 August 2019


I’ve had a lot of depressing e-mails from friends living abroad telling me how miserable I should be and how much more miserable I’m going to be; that a no-deal Brexit will be an economic catastrophe; that we’re all shitting ourselves, or should be.

And those who aren’t are deluding themselves, fiddling as Rome burns.
Although I was an ardent ‘remainer’, as a democrat, I recognise we lost the argument.
- I believe in international co-operation.
- I love Europe and feel very happy there.
- But I prize human spirit, enterprise and resilience above political ideology.

In the end I believe we’ll make the best of the script which, nonetheless, had it been in my power I shouldn’t have written. We need to retain our sense of humour and especially our sense of irony. The “we’re all doomed” school of thinking has no useful role to play.

We need to work on creating a new different and, possibly in the long run, better world. Here are a few things that may be different:

The Union may not survive. A pity. A blow to our vanity but if Scotland wants to leave so be it.
The farming industry may thrive, focusing on the home market. In Sussex we already have a fruit and veg entrepreneur selling delicious fresh vegetables from his range of antique horseboxes, all grown in Sussex farms. The exchange rate will make a lot of European food unaffordable.

We’ll miss trips to Europe, for the time being, particularly, in our case, Italy. But we’ll get to see more of England, Scotland and Wales, instead.

Last week we went to Rathfinny a wine estate outside Alfriston, ½ hour east of Brighton. They have 350,000 vines and are planning to have over 800,000. It’s the biggest solus-owned vineyard in Europe and, certainly, the most modern in equipment and technology. Their restaurant, overlooking their vineyards in Cradle Valley, was sensational in both value and Michelin-quality. With phenomena like this things look up.

Our sport may cheer us up too. Some brilliant footballers, golfers, cricketers, netball, rugby and hockey players. And perhaps great Bayreuth singers like Catherine Foster, the English mezzo soprano who can’t get a role in Britain, might be more welcome now.

Big institutions like banks, global corporates and supermarkets may struggle – their lives are likely to become much more complicated. My heart bleeds for them.

How bad will it be? It seems quite a lot of people are hoping it will be terrible and get even worse, much worse on the basis that this will demonstrate, in a kind of ideological masochism, the folly of leaving the EU.

Brexit may be regrettable, it may even be tricky but I refuse to believe it’s the end of our world. Enterprising entrepreneurs will do well. They always do.  We’ve got to believe not grieve, be happy and stop listening to politicians and macro-economists showing us the potential downsides. Let’s enjoy the sunshine and keep out of the rain.

“Start-ups Pivots and Pop Ups” by Richard Hall and Rachel Bell is published in October by Kogan Page. The antidote to doubt and gloom

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