I spent some of the weekend at London Pride, a tremendous celebration of diversity and inclusion.
It was an incredibly enjoyable occasion and time to reflect after an EU debate that at times bordered on xenophobia and hatred.
We clearly now need to come together as a nation and this festival gave me hope, that xenophobic arguments can be put behind us, as we now define a future for Britain outside of the EU. For me personally, that is a pre-condition of any sensible Brexit plan and I hope the new political leadership makes that clear from the start.
And where do we go from here in terms of business?
I hear calls for a second referendum or for legal challenges against Brexit. I understand the emotion behind this, but don’t believe it’s the right way to go. It was always a one time referendum and anyone who thought it was time for protesting should learn from that and those that felt they should have voiced their opinions more positively should learn also. That is one of the positive outcomes I hope for from this referendum, that more people, especially the young, who voted in favour of remain, get more involved in politics and make sure they hold political leaders to account on delivering their Brexit promises. Including those of a stronger economy, more money spent on public services and a fair and respectful immigration system.
This is however not the time to have another lengthy debate on whether we made the right decision or not. That just creates more uncertainty, and we now need to do the opposite. Create certainty, and a plan that gives us a perspective and confidence.
I always did say, that Britain will survive outside of the EU, so I think we now need to get on and make that survival plan as strong as possible. At Siemens we will throw our weight behind this as the UK very much remains an exciting market for us.
As the wider business community, I think we now have to focus on three key things.
1. To stay calm and be a stabilising movement to help calm markets and restore confidence.
2. To work with the political group that emerges as the lead negotiatiors with the EU, and support and put pressure on getting a clear economic plan asap. Waiting for 2 years or even 6 months will slow investment levels and would not deliver on a stronger economy.
3. As business, we need to listen to the feedback and reflect on our role in society. This was clearly also a vote from communities feeling dislocated and alienated by ‘Big Business’. We therefore need to strengthen our positive impact on society and create a stronger narrative for the future of our communities. At Siemens, we take our societal role seriously and are keen to strengthen that further.
In the end, we will see how well we did, and in a couple of years time we’ll reflect again, and hopefully we will have made good progress on what Brexit looks like. If we haven’t, then maybe the next generation will have to take it in a different direction, but for now lets stay calm and do our best to make a Brexit plan work.