Why is friendship so difficult?

We look at why do your European friends desert you when you need them most?

There’s this girl I know, she found me on Facebook. I don’t know why. She invites me to be her « friend ». I don’t have a problem with that, so sure, I say, why not. Who are you? Tell you what, (I say) – give me your phone number and we can have a chat.

“No, sorry, (she says) – I only give my number to my friends.“

My colleague in Vilnius Lithuania, is connected. A very smart guy. He calls me and says, « you know what I am hearing Richard? The rumours here are that the local EU people are aiming to make it as hard as possible for the UK to leave the EU with anything much – a sort of deterrent to stop any other countries from following suit. ».

This is not alas the first time we have heard these stories. So, at a time when British troops and planes are currently defending the space of all of the Baltic States – and are committed to continue – what is it about friendship that can be so one-sided? True friendship is a rare thing.

The problem is this. If your « friends » do not support you when you are down – and the UK is in a « down » place at the moment – then what was the point of the relationship in the first place? And it is self perpetuating, because it means that for people like me – who voted absolutely to Remain in our fateful Referendum, and who was not taken in by the lies and total myopia of our Leave cousins – I am now – dare I say these awful words, wash your mouth out Richard – thinking; hey, maybe we are indeed better off out of this Club. They can keep their ball. We don’t want to play any more.

And then you start to think.

The UK culture is at its best when we are in a tight spot. We are an island mentality. Somehow or other, against all the odds (goes the romantic story…)… we somehow survive and keep the home fires burning. We love it when life is unfair. It offends our innate tolerance and sense of fairplay. You don’t need any more motivation that this.

And for sure, the good people of Scotland have already worked out they will sell gallons more whisky if they don’t have to abide by EU rules. And down in Devon/Cornwall, our fishermen and farmers are similarly upbeat. Somehow or other, we have generated a revenue stream that provides for all of us, with quality of life, and that remains a Mecca for immigrants who prefer to set up camp at Calais rather than stop en route a Lille or the tech hubs of Valenciennes nearby.

Which makes me suggest that the guys who do the currency exchange forecasts etc, have got it rather wrong. Now is a great time to invest in the UK, as this is the very time we take off our jacket and actually do some work.

But it is also a strategic time for the colleagues of the EU to reconsider their approach. Your « friend » will have a much bigger chance of coming back, in prodigal son style, if you support them when they leave. And make no mistake, the EU needs Uk money for its grandiose schemes. In the same way that you and I will never shop again at the store that refuses us a refund – so at the end of a hostile Brexit, there is fat chance of us ever wanting to to get back into a relationship with these robbers who have stolen our ball.

That would be a pity for all of us – but then again, it might not. True friendship is a rare thing. In the words of that great Corrs song – Maybe we never liked them anyway.

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Brexit and your Business

We look at the latest numbers from the ONS and see what it means for your business.

The recent figures from the UK based Office for National Statistics (ONS) – says two things. They  are interesting because they show that; – first, whilst we have persuaded it would appear, less EU residents to come base their life in the UK – it is the EU newcomers and residents who have come and who do come, who are the most work hungry and already have jobs.  It is the Non-EU visitors, who are the most likely to come as a family, and then “look for work”.

The importance is that Brexit was based on a fear of immigration. but as the following example will show – we have succeeded only in turing away those residents who are actually contributing to our own UK economy – and in doing so, we have marginalised ourselves in the UK.

I saw this only this week, in an NHS Clinic, where I was fortunate to have surgery;  the majority of nurses, surgeons, Consultants, etc – were European. The quality of care was second to none.  But individually, they spoke to me with a sense of sadness – they loved the tolerance and relaxed and positive attitude of our society.

This resonates with meetings I had just last week – in international Conferences in Sweden, and in France – where separately, but by happenstance – senior delegates and vendors said to me:

“Look – we have been serious about entering the UK and building a new business there – but we no longer believe that YOU are serious”.

The impression we are giving as UK businesses, is that we do not value the people, and therefore we do not value the market – in Europe.

The question is – how to stop that?

The answer is one of face/face meetings.  We find that “showing seriousness” means getting on a plane. We have never lost a deal because we were, or were not, part of some political club.  But we have indeed lost deals, by not bothering to reach out to our international customers – who do seem more than willing to work with us.