The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest honour that this country can bestow for bravery and selfless duty to others. If ever there was a symbol depicting the British bulldog spirit and courage facing overwhelming odds, it is the VC. With 41 recipients, The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) has received the greatest number of Victoria Crosses of any military unit in history, including two of only three people to have been awarded it twice. A monumental achievement indeed and summed up perfectly by the RAMC’s regimental motto of ‘In Arduis Fidelis’, translated it means ‘Faithful in Adversity.’
As the government’s Brexit plan and negotiations appear to be crumbling before our eyes and the remain campaigners doomsday prophecies are increasing in frequency, hysteria and lunacy, I can’t help thinking the motto of our erstwhile establishment today is more akin to ‘In Arduis Timidus .’
This week sees the last of the main political party conferences and, I wager, by the end of the week, the Conservatives will have as mixed and as blurred a vison as Labour on what Brexit should be. Which isn’t very inspiring.
As one of the majority who voted to leave, I did so principally to reinstate democracy and accountability to the governing of the country. I accepted too, that it would not be easy or painless but, nevertheless, confident that the nation would overcome any short term difficulty and emerge much stronger politically, socially and economically in the medium to long term.
Much of the project fear arguments are now becoming rather desperate, illogical and frankly embarrassing. Brexit promises have been broken and now, it seems, leaving the EU will cause massive job losses, a collapsing economy, with desperation and hardship for all. I’m surprised no one has predicted leaving the EU will release the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ and the end or the world. Mind, I can’t help noticing that most of predictions of doom and gloom relating to leaving the EU are prefixed with ‘may’, ‘could’, ‘might’ and ‘possibly’. A bit like all those dire warnings from experts predicting the calamity awaiting us from not joining the Euro in 1997 or the millennium bug in 2000. Have we really become that pusillanimous?
The reality is, staying in the EU is no guarantee we won’t suffer anyway, look at the catastrophic collapse that happened to Greece in 2008, where GPD was halved and unemployment dramatically fell. A decade later Greece still hasn’t recovered, despite being a member of the EU.
When it comes to broken promises, the EU remains top of the premier league. The past 40 years have been littered with them; one of the most memorable was the EU’s promise to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in exchange for the UK reducing its rebate. I remember Tony Blair dutifully giving up our rebate, thus handing over more £billons of UK money to Europe. Yet today, ten years on, we are still waiting for the EU’s promised CAP reform.
Disruption and discomfort is normal and the modern concept that we must exist in some sort of pain free utopia is nothing more than delusional and in many respects inhibits advancement. Pain and discomfort, in many cases, are the catalysts that drive innovation and inspire progress. Perfectly illustrated by North East entrepreneur, Michael Brennan. Brennan was bullied as a young boy at school and as a result developed an Anti-Bullying platform and set up the Tootoot Company, based in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Now in its 4th year the company’s products are widely used in education establishments all over the UK and internationally. Michael Brennan and Tootoot are a great example of why we should seek to lose the sybarite mentality and be more make do and mend.
Fervent supporters of remaining in the EU single market and customs union regularly claim that to leave them will cost jobs. This is a tad misleading given that thousands of jobs have been lost over the years, despite being in the EU. Threats to jobs come in many forms and impacted by many differing things such as: Technology, behaviour, competition, industrial changes, market trends and advances in transport and communications. I firmly believe, when it comes to the economy and employment prospects, it is important our Brexit strategy is for the next thirty years, not the next three. Given that, as an economic region, Europe is in decline and forecast to be a mere 9% of the world’s economy by 2060, it makes economic sense that we have in place the economic and political freedom to secure new trading relationships with the emerging economic regions such as Asia and South America. We can’t do that being handcuffed to the single market and customs union.
In a seafaring analogy, the EU is like a large cruise liner slowly sinking in a vast ocean and Brexit the UK passengers clambering to board a lifeboat. At the moment the government’s chequers deal is a bit like getting in the lifeboat and remaining tethered to the ship and a no deal akin to casting off and taking one’s chances alone in the open seas.
So, what happens if we end up with the no deal option? Well, we’ll just have to roll up our sleeves, stop whinging and do what we Brits do best; which is ‘et portare super vos tacebitis’, translated means, ‘Keep calm and carry on.’
This article was first published in the Newcastle Journal on 4 October 2018