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Strategies for Changing Minds on Brexit

As a business consultant and author of 12 books on leadership, I was asked to explain how a model for change offered valuable insights on how we might change minds on Brexit. The Gleicher formula offers a model for thinking about change. You can find a full treatment of the model and my modification in my 2016 book for Bloomsbury “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise“.

When applied to our strategy for change, some observations may be made:

A – CREATIVE TENSION Whereas there is massive creative tension (dissatisfaction) with the present situation re Brexit, it is by no means shared. Our fieldwork on the ground shows that many people who previously described themselves as remainers no longer believe that Brexit can or should be reversed. This is what I called “Learned Helplessness” in the book “Let’s Talk About Brex it“. For example many young people at the Reading Festival last week think that Brexit is irreversible. Some were surprised to learn that we are still attempting to renegotiate the Brexit deal as it has been airbrushed out of the media by all political parties.

ACTION : We must work on awareness that Brexit is not done, with individuals, communities and of course political parties. See communications strategies below.

B – SHARED VISION This is the area where Remainers struggle the most. There are multiple diagnoses of the routes to rejoin. Some think it can never be done, others think it will take 20-30 years, others much shorter timescales. Some think it can only be done by working on politicians, others on voting systems, others on the ground, and so on. A lack of leadership and shared vision is a hardy perennial in the Remain movement and our work on Scenarios to Rejoin could be used to help focus people on the more viable pathways to Rejoin.

ACTION : This is the most urgent area for attention. It requires leadership, strategy and structure. It is itself a major obstacle to progress. In the first instance, please join us every Monday to help refine our Scenarios for Rejoin. Longer term we must convert these into strategies and persuade leaders and opinion formers of the value of having a shared vision of the routes to Rejoin.

C – ACTIONABLE FIRST STEPS In the absence of a shared vision, we have a scattergun approach to C. Some say we cannot wait for strategy and we must do something, almost anything to change the situation. Others say we must wait for the needed clarity, yet it has not been forthcoming in the last five years. Purposeful action arises when there is clarity on item B. In the meantime our four objectives at Re-Boot Britain are a useful interim set of goals. Others have similar ambitions, expressed differently but there is good coherence amongst grassroots groups about what needs to be done. It is a case of gathering, harvesting and multiplying that work. Interim goals such as the Customs Union and Single Market may be stepping stones on the journey, but one must also be minded of the fact that such things will radically reduce the pool of people and interest groups that want Brexit stopped. For example, once industry is satisfied about the way things are, reclaiming the rights of 68 million people may be much more difficult. The goal of “logical incrementalism” versus an “all or nothing” strategy must be thought deeply about. Our Government understand this, hence attempts to buy off sectors with inducements, in order to reduce the pool of people who remain unhappy about Brexit. Play this forward five years and it is not clear that a Rejoin movement of any size would exist at all. The time is now in terms of working on all elements of the change model, even if some of the actions are preparatory.

ACTION : We can all act to call Brexit to account, by continuing the conversation about Brexit Carnage and the lack of benefits coming through. What are your top five daily actions as an individual? What can you do with others in your local area?

D – COST OF CHANGE Undoing something is always harder than doing it. As we diverge further from EU alignment, it becomes more and more difficult to Rejoin. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the Brexit ultras wish to do this. Never forget that Brexit was won on emotion and not a plethora of facts. Rejoiners need to think more about how we can talk Leave voters down from the mountain. At an individual level, the book Let’s Talk About Brex it is a how-to guide on changing beliefs and even identities on the Brexit debate. We plan a series of masterclasses on the processes of change. Join us every Monday via ZOOM to find out more.

ACTIONS : Your call

Please write to me to flesh this short piece out. I am happy to expand upon this article with your views.

Part of our work on element C is changing the view that we cannot expect better than Brexit – join us by clicking the image
Rejoin EU

Routes to Rejoin EU 2021-2031

Here are our first cut stories from our Scenarios to Rejoin exercise.  We are still working on these and you can join in every Monday at 8 pm via ZOOM. So far we have four thematic stories which may end up mixing and intermingling but at present are separate:

Bluff, Bluster and Bust – predominantly macro-economic

Breadline Britain – predominantly socio-economic

The Empire Strikes Back – predominantly political 

The Eye of the Irish Tiger – predominantly global but focused on the post Brexit world outside Albion, so not exclusively Ireland, more a competitive scenario as to how the world responds to Brexit especially near neighbours

I’ve yet to capture some of the other scenarios – environmental and long range legal stuff.  But we have made huge progress down to your efforts.  Please get in touch to add your fingerprints to the work.

Please be kind. These are by no means finished and need your input.

Bluff, Bluster and Bust 

London made a bid for independence in 2030 as news that the UK economy slipped from No 4 in 2015 to No 11. This had been preceded in 2029 after the UK Brexit economy finally tanked.  The Sun reported the headline “England sick as a Brexit dog”.   

The rot had started much much earlier, when Rishi Sunak removed the triple pension lock in 2022. This produced a generation of pensioners that were effectively living on the breadline, unable to support children and grandchildren, selling off their homes to pay for retirement and care homes.  This was compounded by stagflation due to Brexit, as wages levelled off and National Insurance increased.  Working people struggled to get well-paid jobs.  Brexit economists struggled to find diversions to point the finger for Britain’s problems elsewhere but the underlying logic of high structural costs and declining economic activity defined our early years of so-called freedom.  Things became so bad in 2024 that some people in UK insist on being paid in Euros.  The Lugano Convention had still not been signed by 2026 but Britain continued to rely upon services to drive it’s economy, yet Lugano prevented UK from thriving in a post Brexit world.  Save for an uptake in food production which happened as a necessity after The Hunger Games in 2022, Britain was broken.

The new EU tax avoidance scheme came into force on January 1st 2022.  Brexit supporters started to become angry that it meant that Amazon et al had to pay tax in the countries they operated in within EU countries, whilst Britain became a haven for companies who wished to avoid tax.  This meant that people were exploited to even greater levels than before and thus the dream of Brexit became even more distant.

Contributory factors to the decline of Britain as a world economic power began quickly after Brexit with Scottish independence in 2023, Irish unification in 2025 and a decision by Wales to seek independence in 2027.  Their economies disappeared too, although Boris Johnson tried to hold back Scottish independence by moving UK public service agencies out of Scotland.  Once the contagion began, it was unstoppable with London seeking to make itself a Crown Dependency and Cornwall and The North-East asking for Regional Parliaments.

In other disruptive and unexpected events, cybercurrency became regulated as the Bitcoin economy collapsed in 2025.  Jacob Rees-Mogg lost everything in 2024 in the Sterling Crisis, after overplaying the markets with his financial trading company. The Daily Express headline said “How the mighty have fallen”, whereas The Sun ran with “Mogged off’.  The Brexit illusion of Singapore on Thames came back to bite people where it hurt most. Never more had bluff, bluster and bust made more sense to the blowhards of Brexit.

AC Grayling
Join us on Wed 8th September to discuss Rejoining the EU with Professor AC Grayling – Click picture for your ticket

Breadline Britain

By 2031, the impact of The Brexit Hunger Games had been felt through civil unrest, the formation of The People’s Progress Party (PPP), formed from the fragments of Labour, Lib Dems, a merger with The Green Party and Memoranda of Friendship with the independent Governments of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and The European Union. Although the party could not stop the damage done by Brexit, Brexit carnage had eventually unified the people against the remnants of the Conservative Party.  This took place after an attempted takeover by Jacob Rees Mogg and following the worst riots ever seen on the streets of Britain in 2022, after the impact of Brexit on food supplies, prices and availabilities of goods and services previously taken for granted.  One of the earliest acts of the PPP was to prosecute various culture carriers of Brexit.  In 2026 a group of these people were jailed for various offences, including Boris Johnson and Priti Patel.

The PPP was formed in 2023 in a complete volte face of traditional politics.  People were selected for office, based on rigorous selection methods and then elected by people’s assemblies.  Whilst the party had some politicians drawn from the best of the crop, it was formed from people from business, the arts, community leaders and so on.  This was informed by the insight that some celebrities and sportspeople were more skilled and popular than Westminster politicians.  This was however no populist uprising.  The PPP insisted on informed democracy, fought the election in 2024 on some old-fashioned ideas about trust, reforming politics and healing the country.  They won a majority of votes but lost the election to the Conservatives due to the existing FPTP system  This was based on some very good campaigning, based on an Enough is Enough message and a promise to make a Better Britain in a Better Europe through Better Politics.  This included plans for electoral reform.  It had become clear that the European Union felt they were better off without Britain at the table and, although they had left the door open to rejoining the EU, it would come with some important pre-conditions.  The most important one was for a complete removal of the Brexit ultras from power, to avoid a “Hokey Cokey Brexit” i.e. in/ou/shake it all about approach to EU membership.  Other items such as Schengen and Euro membership were negotiable depending on whether they felt that our standards of democracy were acceptable and the degree to which English exceptionalism had been removed from the political culture.

Breadline Britain tipped over in September 2021, when children were seen crying in the aisles of Dudley Tesco, as their parents fought over the last packets of frozen chicken nuggets.  An angry woman was heard to say “I voted to get my country back, but not for a chicken shortage.  I was duped”.  Once Brexit food import restrictions kicked in on October 1st 2021, the situation rapidly deteriorated.  Shortages were not limited, sporadic and selected.  They were continuous, deep and they touched everyone in strangely different ways.  Still one or two leave voters celebrated the Blitz spirit.  Laura from Basildon won a prize on “Come Dine Without Me” and went to No 10 Downing Street.  She was reported as saying “I’m actually not that hungry”, when having an austerity Christmas lunch with Boris Johnson.

Government plans to mitigate foreign lorry driver shortages due to Brexit backfired badly into 2022.  The 2000 army HGV drivers diverted to deal with the 100 000 foreign lorry driver shortage were quickly rediverted to deal with the Autumn of Discontent, which emerged because of the food shortages and rationing of specific items.  Attempts by food retailers to up HGV driver wages to £55 000 were of course welcomed by lorry drivers.  However, it quickly became apparent that this would “drive traffic” around the supply chain of drivers, as some ambulance drivers, HGV drivers in other sectors etc. decided that they fancied a better wage.  It simply created deficits in other areas.  The initial reaction of the public to the “Keep on Trucking for Britain” campaign was positive but turned sour quickly, as people realised impacts on prices and NHS services.

A tipping point in the Brexit debate was the so-called “Pigs in Blankets” famine of December 2021 where frantic parents fought for Turkeys and the trimmings in supermarkets after the supply chain broke down.  Preceded by a number of marches for and wildcat disturbances at food depots in Britain, Bernard Matthews was asked to join a Government taskforce with Ian Botham and Roger Daltrey on the future of turkeys for Christmas.  Botham promptly attempted to blame farmers for the problem and was squewered by Matthews who was heard to say “Bootiful”.  Meanwhile M&S Chair and former Conservative Party MP Archie Norman pointed out “This is totally down to Brexit.  Nothing to do with COVID and the product of a party I was once proud of, but which has now put Brexit ideology above pragmatism”.

But Britain was not beaten.  Boris Johnson, buoyed up by the birth of his second son, Aristotle, whipped up enthusiasm for British Bulldog Spirit and initiated a new scheme called Grow for Britain, where house owners were given a £50 grant to convert their gardens to allotments, using Afghans as live-in labour as part of their cultural conversion.  Johnson appeared on Gardener’s World just before Christmas in a project with Monty Don to convert the Rose Garden into a cabbage patch just before Carrie delivered Aristotle to offset people’s thoughts about food shortages at Christmas.  In real life however, the British people found that micro farming was not popular, especially in the middle of winter.

Brits, freed from lockdown restrictions and loaded with cash sought to unload their excess financial baggage by holidaying in Europe and beyond in 2022 and 2023.  But they faced a new problem.  Sterling.  In 2022, Sterling had parity with the Euro and in 2023, with the dollar, due to Britain’s new standing in the world as a third country.  Although some continued with their holidays, Rishi Sunak introduced restrictions limiting the amount of money taken on holidays to curb the Sterling crisis.  The Daily Express was unable to blame the problem on Johnny Foreigner and used the headline “Pounded by Brexit”.  Queues at passport control when the EU channel was absolutely empty made holiday makers irate, aside from the hassle and £6 charge to go into Europe.  But most staycation holidays in Britain were out of reach financially for many people, as prices were hiked due to supply and demand considerations.

Can’t get no

Shortages continued at a deep level for two more years until 2024, but they never actually went away completely.  Some items simply disappeared from shelves.  Many were unexpected, such as bleach, diagnostic tests, tonic water and some medicines for rare conditions.  As with all crises, human ingenuity finds a way.  If an out-of-stock item was discovered in a particular town on a given morning, all the stock would be gone by 9 am and then sold on the black market.  “Only Fools and Horses” became the reality in trading scarce goods and every village had a character known as Del Boy.  Clandestine banana trading was used as a kind of proxy to preserve community spirit as Del liked to say “’Ave a Banana” to keep the neighbours sweet.  The Police noted a small rise in looting, not of money or property, but of vegetables from gardens.  All the while Boris Johnson refused to accept humanitarian aid from the EU during the UK “hungry gap”.  This is the few weeks, usually in April, May and early June, after the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest.  Boris Johnson continued his campaign of deflection into 2023 after he swapped Carrie up for a debutante who was working as a media relations executive at The Daily Express.  This followed Carrie’s failure to host a third child for the Johnson dynasty.

Little things seem to irritate more than the big-ticket items.  Whilst people were prepared to forget the £37 billion wasted on fictional PPE and the 150 000 unnecessary COVID deaths, they found it extremely annoying that the EU’s new satellite system Galileo made GPS navigation much more accurate with implications for driverless cars and HGV’s into 2027.  Insurance companies started to insist on the use of Galileo as the gold standard for driverless vehicles and people were able to access Galileo on a paid for basis.

Although Boris Johnson attempted to deflect the fact that Britain has systematically degraded its levels of food security over decades, people were more persuaded by the continuing food shortages in 2022 and the so called “Andrex Wars”.  Strategies to pay lorry drivers extra by commercial companies are seen to backfire after it becomes obvious that these were taking staff away from NHS ambulance drivers and critical services.  In any case smart young people who saw the future did not want to take up careers as lorry drivers as they saw the advent of driverless trucks in 2028.  Some hauliers upgraded to LHV rather than training new HGV drivers.  The trucks were more efficient, lower GHG emissions per tonne transported.

After a complete meltdown of the Conservative party in 2027 and the removal of the Brexit ultras from power with some being imprisoned, the PPP finally got elected in 2028 and began the business of Rejoining the EU.  This was preceded by riots by pensioners after free prescriptions were removed in 2026 on the road to privatisation of the NHS.

Rejoin EU
Join us on Wed 8th September to discuss Rejoining the EU with Professor AC Grayling – Click picture for your ticket

2016 revisited

I came across a Linkedin post that wrote just before the referendum in May 2016 entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go“. It attracted a lot of commentary including a 2916 word essay from one chap who outlined all the benefits of Brexit. I was reminded of the article and struck by just how inaccurate his predictions were. I reminded the chap of this, an HR professional, now retired. He replied that it was a casual comment and not an essay. He then became angry as I called him to account and phoned me up to tell me to ‘lighten up”. Why would I when he has ruined future generations’ futures? Later on he removed his comment and left Linkedin to cover his tracks. I confess that this was not my finest act of Brexorcism, but nonetheless, I’m sure his essay will have appeared to have weight. I’ve summarised it here as an interesting record of Brexit illusions. The trouble is, he still believes them!! Here is a summary of the main illusions that Paul has swallowed:

TRUE : We are not leaving NATO et al

FALSE : Security implications of Brexit remain unclear

FALSE : Border and travel issues are a major source of Brexit problems

FALSE : The UK economy will benefit by Billions – in fact the reverse is true

FALSE : Farming is a shitshow under Brexit and has hardly begun. Fishing the same

FALSE : Human rights are significantly reduced under Brexit

FALSE : European workers have not continued to flock here under Brexit. We are yet to see the full impacts in transport, NHS, care, hospitality, construction and so on

FALSE : Jobs and production will not move out of UK. We have seen a steady stream of jobs leaving the UK under Brexit and again this is just the beginning

TRUE : We never lost our sovereignty. The withdrawal act stated it on the first page of the document

TRUE : You cannot eat sovereignty

Routes to Rejoin

We have commenced an exploration of a number of scenarios to Rejoin the EU. Have your say by joining us every Monday at 8pm via ZOOM. Our first outputs are shown below:

Event Strings V III – short term
Event strings V III – Mid term

Our next stages are to write narratives describing pathways through the scenarios and finally to identify short, medium and longer term campaigning goals that take account of a disruptive and fast moving political environment. We must be agile and adaptive as well as focused on long term strategy to succeed.

We have also just released our latest series of visuals to compare Brexit realities with Brexit unicorns. Please support our work via Patreon or Paypal.

AC Grayling

AC Grayling on Rejoining the EU

Join us at this very special event with Professor AC Grayling on Rejoining the EU, sooner rather than later. Book your ticket on Eventbrite before they run out.

Wednesday September 8 2021 – from 19.00 – 21.00 – The first hour is the seminar plus questions. The second hour is a participative opportunity to reflect upon Professor Grayling’s seminar, an opportunity for dialogue and an event to update our draft scenarios for rejoin. Here is our working draft:

Click on the images to get your ticket

Please attend our induction events every Monday at 8 pm on ZOOM. We will be considering scenarios to Rejoin EU in August in preparation for Professor Grayling’s input.

In case you are not familiar with Scenario Planning, it can be summarised as “a history of the future”.  We will consider a long time horizon of at least 10 years and then identify plausible events along that time line.  These will be the PESTLE factors: political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental events.  From this we construct the most likely scenarios, bearing in mind that our politics are in flux, so disruptions must be examined.  I will be leading you through the process.  You can read a little on the process at Scenarios although our time horizons will be longer than the example given.

So, please give some thoughts as to the likely events coming up in the next decade.

The Facebook event invite is here for sharing.

The first 100 tickets were free and now we need support to help cover our costs in increasing our ZOOM contract. We aim to run more events and need £480 to cover a yearly upgrade on ZOOM. Once we reach this, all our events into 2022 will be free.

Professor Grayling will speak on what we need to do to rejoin the EU sooner rather than later with some very practical suggestions for all of us to act upon.Anthony Grayling is the author of about 30 books on philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics, including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), The Future of Moral Values (1997), Wittgenstein (1992), What Is Good? (2000), The Meaning of Things (2001), The Good Book (2011), The God Argument (2013), The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind (2016) and Democracy and its Crises (2017).He has been a stalwart campaigner for our continuing membership of the European Union.

The event is co-promoted by Re-Boot Britain, Mid Kent European Movement, East Kent European Movement, Alliance4Europe and Dorset European Movement. Alliance4Europe is a non-profit working to activate citizens for a more democratic, inclusive and sustainable Europe. It builds coalitions for pro-European action for more impactful campaigning. Omri Preiss is a co-founder and managing director of A4E, with a background in EU policy-making and human rights advocacy.

Re-Boot Britain
Re-Boot Britain – Please support our work by clicking the image