Brexit a fraught farce searching for a fickle fix
Brexit a fraught farce searching for a fickle fix
01 APRIL 2019 7:26 AM

Brexit continues to rumble on without any movement forward, and business wants clarity, although perhaps we should do as Belgium did and just carry on happily without any political governance at all.

Hotel News Now has categories in which our articles are placed for easier search capabilities. They include “financing,” “design” and “revenue management,” to name three among numerous others.

HNN also has one called “How to,” but I rather think my blog this week should be given a new category—“How not to.”

Brexit again.

Everyone is tired of what is now coming up to three years of debate, but I try to remind myself every time I raise my eyebrows that this is too important an issue just to wish it was swept under the carpet.

What would be a tragedy is if our politicians shrugged their shoulders and decided to vote a bad decision through merely for the sake of doing so.

This week, British business made its most vociferous attack to date on what it sees as political incompetence.

British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said at its annual general meeting that business, referring to the governing classes, is “frustrated.”

“We are angry,” he said. “You have let British business down. You have focused on soundbites, not substance. Tactics, not strategy. Politics, not prosperity. Listening without hearing. And as a result businesses and communities in every part of the (United Kingdom) are still unsure about when the future starts, let alone what it holds. Three years going round in circles … no one would run a business like this, and it is no way to run a country.”

To the point, indeed.

I can only think this is career politics about common sense, and confusion all around. It really is impossible to hear Remain politicians speaking about remaining without thinking they really want to leave, or Leave politicians speaking about leaving without thinking they really want to remain.

And there is no opposition, as both major parties seem to have very vocal members.

Probably the real error was right at the beginning when there was set in motion a mania to at least put through the legislation—the so-called revocation of Article 50—to leave the European Union without any clear idea as what that meant beyond the obvious notion of exiting and no strategy as to how to go about it.

That’s like a hotel company saying we want 30 brands by 2022 but having no idea how to find owners, franchises, capital and labor.

Last week, there were eight “indicative” votes in Parliament, in which non-legislative voting was conducted to see if Parliament at least could hint at the likely direction in which agreement could be sought.

Not one got a large enough majority.

As I write, the government is seemingly preoccupied with trying to pass parliamentary agreement on the withdrawal agreement—the terms of the exit from the EU—rather than any actual deal outlining our future relationship with the U.K.

Am I missing something? Is this just merely again saying we want to leave but not having any clear idea how to?

Is the U.K. seen now as a tragicomedy, or a continuing beacon of democracy in which politicians of good heart and stout moral compasses refuse to be bullied into decisions they believe are morally reprehensible?

All the while, businesses grappling with future order books, employee wages and changing costs of capital have one arm tied behind their backs, or a blinker put over one eye, or any other metaphor one chooses to use.

A three-month period is short enough that mistakes can be admitted, but not three years, and all the time passing in which I can only feel more pressing issues have been neglected.

Maybe when, if, Brexit does happen, everything will be rosy.

A lot of business leaders feel this and are doing what they’ve always done, putting sound practice in operations.

At every conference I have been to, hoteliers say there are challenges, but that they feel optimistic.

We at HNN discussed a headline last week in which the word “optimism” was part.

My colleagues said we might ban headlines containing the words “cautiously optimistic” and “optimistically cautious,” although such sentiment is what we encounter every quarter and at every conference.

I often wonder, though, what will make hoteliers lose this optimism. A recession? Nuclear devastation? Bubonic plague?

Maybe the only thing to really fear is a government that actually decides something.

At the beginning of this decade, Belgium did not have a government for 589 days, and I seem to remember the country functioning perfectly well.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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