Back to Top

Tag Archives: Brexorcism

The Brexorcist

Mass Brexorcisms

Please join us THIS SUNDAY 19th November for a free masterclass in the gentle art and discipline of Brexorcism with Hertfordshire for Europe from 5.00 pm to 6.30. Tickets are free here.

We are presently at the stage where nearly 2/3 of people believe that Brexit has failed. Rather less believe that we can do anything about it given the state of parliamentary paralysis that has taken hold. If we reach 70% of people who believe that Brexit has failed, MPs will have to listen. This means dispelling thoughts of ‘learned helplessness’ and the myths currently being spread about joining EU anew.

I coined the phrase ‘Brexorcism’ to describe the gentle process of influence and persuasion needed to change minds about Europe and Brexit. A fusion of therapeutic interventions, psychology, sociology etc. In our masterclass, I will give a digest of his books on the subject and answer your questions on the practicalities of mindset change. In real life I am isa business and change management expert, having written 14 books on leadership. Find out more about Brexorcism below:

Read our books on Brexorcism here

Brexorcism
Brexorcism unlplugged.

Check out 12 angry Tories

The Brexit Psyche

Changing Minds on Brexit

This article in The Guardian is being shared widely by Rejoiners at the moment. It is a good piece of academic analysis. Yet I have some problems with a couple of the points it makes (I guess that’s unsurprising!!). It’s a long piece, so buckle yourself in for a long ride. Here’s what I really like about the piece:

Consonance

The article correctly states that the Brexit mindset is a complex interwoven set of beliefs (coalitions within coalitions) that keep getting reinforced by our populist media. I articulated this via my ‘Brexit Brain’ model below. Quite why I coined the phrase ‘Brexorcism‘ to describe the complex quasi-religious mindset change process in the book Reboot Britain.

“It’s really hard. We see tremendous stability over very long periods of time. A choice like Brexit provides endless stimuli to feed that brain activity. It’s coalitions within coalitions within coalitions…”   Darren Schreiber.

The Brexit Brain
The Brexit Brain – Read more by clicking the brain.

Thus, normal approaches to change management are not valid: ‘Carrots and sticks; are often used to change simple levels of behaviour and performance at work. For example, if you pay people more, they might work harder for a while. Put them under threat, they may also work harder, go on strike, work less or leave the company etc. But changing Kwasi-religious beliefs such as Brexit is a whole different ball game. It’s not a rational choice as the Guardian article rightly explains.

Whole brained change

I advocate a blend of so-called left (more analytical) and right brained (more emotional) thinking to reach deep into the Brexit psyche of my ‘clients’, what is known as a ‘hearts and minds’ approach in business consulting circles. Using hard hitting emotional headlines to grab people by the heart and longer more analytical approaches to ensure that their heads fall in line with their hearts. The dual approach is epitomised in the book Private Eyelines, a book targeted at leave voters to help them understand how they were lied to. p.s. DO NOT buy the book on Amazon. I get a £2.00 royalty on a sale of £32.99 for six months work, as Amazon keep all the profits!  Whilst I don’t write books as an income source, I also don’t write them to boost Amazon’s profits. If you wish to buy a copy direct at an author’s discount, talk to me direct via reboot@brexitrage.com. By the way the left-right brain divide has been questioned but the idea of whole brain thinking (analytical and emotional) is a handy notion to help us think about the need to reach head and heart.

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” Leon Festinger.

Another truism in the article is the belief that all leave voters are unresponsive to dialogue, thick or closed. This reveals itself in oft quoted statements by some Remainers, who say things like “You can’t educate pork”, “I’ve tried everything” and “They are thick as mince”. Truth be told, some Remainers lack the skills, patience and time to conduct effective Brexorcisms. Also it really matters who you choose as your ‘client’. There really is no point working on a ‘Nigel Farage type hardcore Brexiters’ but many leave voters are not hard leavers. Selection of your targets is key, both in terms of where they sit on the Remain – Leave continuum and to what extent they are key opinion formers for others who follow their views.

“When you pathologise the other side, there’s no point in reaching out to them” Brian Hughes.

Relationship and rapport is key

The article goes on to say something terribly important. “If there is a way through this, he suggests, it is to break down the myths of us and them.”  A successful Brexorcism only operates on the basis of a strong relationship and a basic bond of trust. If you are going to challenge beliefs, you need a massive ‘bank balance’ of relationship power to succeed. This is why Steve Bray and his cult have changed very few minds by ‘shouting at people’ in Parliament, upsetting sympathetic media people into the process. In case of doubt, I started on the street with Steve at No 10 Vigil. He quickly spotted that the real action was at Parliament instead of Downing Street and set up a splinter group. Later on, I tried to gain him a permanent platform with other figures at Channel 4 News which he rejected. Of course, Steve’s activities outside the House of Commons have other functions. However, his finest moments were when he quietly but firmly ask politicians difficult questions using a Socratic style and a ‘servant leadership’ approach. But everything counts. We need to use all the therapeutic communication styles as discussed by John Heron in Reboot Britain. Social settings such as cafes, pubs etc. are often more helpful than formal settings, hence my comments about the sauna below, although the sauna is not the only environment in which you can change someone’s mind about Brexit!

In the article, Carol Tavris confirms the view that ‘consonance’ or rapport is vital as a starting point for a successful Brexorcism. The conversation is a healthy mixture of what Comms people call ‘pull’ and ‘push’ strategies or what musicians and psychologists call consonance and dissonance. Finding some common ground is extremely important or giving away trivial wins in order to build a connection. One of the difficulties I notice in some activists is their fundamentalist need to ‘win’ all the arguments with leave voters. It’s better to let them have some small wins in the dance of Brexorcism.

“When we argue with somebody about their beliefs, the absolute crucial thing to avoid is making them feel foolish. If you say something like, ‘How could you be so stupid?’, that will almost always make your listener become even more committed to their belief. If you say instead, ‘Well, many of my own expectations turned out not to be the case too’, that might be a place to start.”

Dissonance

The Guardian article suggests that we must fully convert people to become Rejoiners. This is akin to a religious conversion or what I call a 360-degree Brexorcism. This is fundamentally incorrect. All we need to deliver as a ‘MVP‘ (Minimum Viable Product” is to move people from the idea that Brexit is a good idea towards ambivalence or doubt about the value of Brexit, a 180-degree Brexorcism. This is a much easier task. This converts in behavioural terms to people not voting in another referendum / General Election to support a Brexit party or possibly voting for a pro-Rejoin party to balance out their previous vote. Obviously a full conversion to the cause would be a much stronger position but, as the article points out, it is much more difficult. This is like trying convert a moderate Christian to Islamic fundamentalism when we only need to go as far as agnosticism, not even atheism.

Our approach to Brexorcism has validation from low-profile approaches to change which were reported on by the BBC some while back. A Brexorcism blends ideas from psychology, sociology, anthropology and therapeutic interventions. People who tell me that you cannot change the minds of Brexit voters simply have not understood the fundamentals of Brexorcism which requires large doses of skill, patience and time. I’m offering a free masterclass on the topic for North Hertfordshire for Europe on Sunday November 19th at 5.00 pm via ZOOM. Contact me to reserve your place. I am also willing to give keynotes and masterclasses on our UK tour to develop a cadre of Brexorcists. This is vital if we are to move the dial faster on Brexit regret by a General Election.

.

Brexorcism unplgged
Brexorcism

The will of the people has changed

My other major beef with the article is that it suggests that “though there is some anecdotal and polling evidence that there has been a shift in sentiment, and that remain might now prevail, the same polls show very little appetite to reopen the question.”  This is incorrect on two levels:

There has been a seismic shift from 4% to 24% of people that believe that Brexit has failed. By 2024 it is quite feasible that 70% of people will believe that Brexit has failed. At that point politicians will no longer be able to look the other way.

Brexit has failed

Whilst it’s true that there is currently no appetite to reopen the Brexit question, this is merely a feature of where we have got to in the cycle. Also, of course, a sense of foreboding that another referendum would re-open all the family feeds / social angst and so on. However, another bloody referendum is not the only way to settle the matter. It is also quite certain that not opening up the difficult question will mean that the wounds of Brexit will remain with us for generations to come. Some kind of healing could actually take place with a grown-up recognition that Brexit has failed and that rejoining the EU is both possible and desirable. There is an embedded assumption that we MUST do this via a referendum. It ain’t necessarily so. See this article for London for Europe and Reboot Britain on the choices we face.

Myths and Riffs of Brexit

I note that the last remaining Brexiters are putting forward a number of myths to silence debate. Sadly some remainers also buy into these myths due to learned helplessness. For example:

We’ll have to have the Euro

We’ll have to have Schengen

The EU will reject our application

And so on.

See our article for Bylines Myths and Riffs of Brexit for a fuller exposition on these myths.

‘Learned helplessness’ on the part of Remainers plays into a passive acceptance of the idea that Brexit is done and it cannot be undone. This is the belief that we don’t deserve to join anew as it might be considered anti-democratic etc. However, a referendum won through fraud, fake social media ads and which was judged illegal by the Supreme Court had it been mandatory is not the high-water mark of democracy. Leavers were not satisfied by a super majority (67.2% on a 64% turnout) in the initial referendum to join the EU in 1975. Nor should we.

Learned Helplessness
Learned Helplessness summed up. We must not subscribe to it.

Indonesia – our structural deficit

Learned helplessness prevails in a vacuum of leadership and a lack of coherent strategy. Whilst the Remain movement was relatively united in the summer of 2019 after a number of victories, the 2019 election fragmented people again along political party lines. There are now as many proposals on how we rejoin as there are pundits. I describe the organisational structure of the Remain movement as being like Indonesia i.e. 17 000 islands and a few bigger ones. But all operating independently. The bigger beasts such as the European Movement compete with other actors such as Best for Britain. Others prefer to plough their own furrow. Some have been asleep at the wheel, calling for Remainers to make the most of Brexit. Yet, the only good Brexit is a dead Brexit. The consequence of being ‘Indonesia’ is that we find it hard to do things at scale. Fragmentation of strategy / structure and poor leadership also mean that we spend as much time arguing internally about strategy as we do in acting on Brexit and Rejoin. I set out five goals which we coalesce around on a monthly basis. It ain’t perfect but we do our best to provide clarity and collaborative leadership across a group of people from Europe. Join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 8 pm UK time via ZOOM. See also our article on Strategies to Join EU anew.

Indonesia
17 000 islands. A few bigger ones.

Five Goals
Five goals to join anew.

Not fade away

One specific point in the article which is not quite correct is the mention of BBC Question Time’s Brexit special event in Clacton. The journalist stated that the audience was made up entirely of those who voted leave. He went on to suggest that this was presumably to ensure the debate would not simply descend into an all-too familiar slanging match. We actually attended the event and talked with people on the street in Clacton. Levels of ‘Bregret’ were widespread in Brexity Clacton outside the event. They were also quite easy to get from people who realised that they had been taken for fools. The Brexit voting audience were also happy to speak with us after the event and many were of the view that Brexit had failed and that they were lied to. It is therefore a mistake to assume that all Brexiters attending BBC QT are now fully committed to Brexit.

This was mirrored in Brexit voting Deal the other week and on BBC Any Questions in Tory voting Southend on 17 August 2023, where the audience failed to applaud any of the statements made by the Tory panel member. Having been at the centre of some extreme nastiness by Brexiters, including the ex Met Policeman who issued threats of violence, spray painted my house and attended with a knife, I observe from Brexit voting Kent that the slanging matches have largely subsided. However, the article is correct when it infers that the products of Brexit won’t go away by not talking about it. See our Brexit iceberg below. Like it or loathe it, Brexit is the smelly dump and stain in the toilet bowel of life that won’t flush.

The Brexit Iceberg
The Brexit Iceberg.

Brexit will continue to traumatise a generation if we do not burst the boil of Brexit one way or another. I believe in facing problems rather than sweeping them under political carpets. Labour in particular will be culpable for assisting the tragedy of Brexit if they continue to look away. Much in the way that the vast majority of good German people were silenced through fear during Hitler’s populist uprising. Fence sitting on Brexit is assent.

“The Tories will crow about Brexit being done. The Labour frontbench will solemnly observe that past tense, and avoid the B-word, as if it is a triggering trauma for the party and the country, best left undisturbed.”

Brexit is the smelly dump and stain in the toilet bowl of life that won’t flush

Lost consonance

As an aside, I found the opening paragraph about ‘Brexit hard man’ Steve Baker an unusual lead into the Guardian piece. I saw Mr Baker’s attempt to draw sympathy from the public to be a calculated attempt to humanise him as a piece of electioneering and not a window on his tortured Brexit soul. No decent Christian would agree with the human principles on which Brexit is founded. Like everything else with Brexit, it’s just another set of illusions. For example, The European Research Group (ERG) does no research. The weaponisation of asylum seekers to appeal to racists and people with feeble minds is not what Jesus would have done. and so on. Baker uses his faux Christianity as a shield and has now turned into a snowflake to gain sympathy from his constituents using the Brexit confessional box. Baker’s so called mental illness, beard growth and acne were mobilised as excuses. Krishnan Guru-Murphy’s analysis was correct when he pointed out that Baker was a C…nt.

Baker explained “I felt repugnant, hateful, to blame for all of the troubles that we had, absolutely without any joy, constantly worried about everything to the point of mental torment. A constant state of panic attacks and anxiety”. So he should, for all the pain he has inflicted on our children and those having anxiety, depression and lost careers / jobs / livelihoods due to Brexit. In fact, Baker should be in jail alongside Rees-Mogg who promised us cheap training shoes, Farage who promised a boom in fish and chips and Johnson who said that Brexit would make my wife’s breasts bigger. I’ve checked several times. They haven’t.

Please support our UK Brexorcism Tour

Join us with BBC’s Jonty Bloom 07 Sept Brighton

50 Shades of Sue Grey

50 Shades of Gray

I had a curious encounter with Kevin Gray on Linkedin the other day. Kevin is CEO of Bath Building Society and, as such, I expected a degree of skill not available to the average soul. Kevin was responding to a post about Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership skills and the SNP in general. It transpired that Kevin does not like the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon or Scottish Independence although he is a Scot in England. Not unsurprisingly, Kevin also likes Brexit. But quite surprisingly, given his position as CEO, he had swallowed some of Boris Johnson’s lies. The transcript of the dialogue that follows illustrates just how pervasive the Dunning-Kruger effect is and especially so when one tries to change someone’s mind using online media. This BBC post was the initial trigger for Kevin’s outburst at Nicola. She rightly pointed out that Boris Johnson’s preoccupations with getting Brexit done, childbirth, ovens, fridges etc. had made a considerable impact on Britain’s ability to focus on the pandemic. I have left Kevin’s remarks unchecked in purple. My replies are in red. The entire conversation is exactly as it emerged on Linkedin. No editing etc. Simply reportage.

Kevin’s initial reaction was : “Hhhmmmm. Not so sure about that. If there was one example of where Brexit did actually help anyone it was in allowing the uk goverment to move quickly with the vaccine taskforce and deliver mass vacination ahead of EU states. I suspect Devolution did not help however. Having x4 parliaments/assemblies to deal with in the UK must surely have slowed up the response? Much as Nicola was a great politician, I would personally not give too much air time to any nationalist whose aim is only to deliver further and much more serious division in the UK.”

Given Kevin’s senior position, I felt no need to hold back and I replied thus:

“I’m afraid this is incorrect Kevin. We could always have done this as an EU member. The truth will come out in the COVID inquiry. Do remember that the vaccine was developed by foreign scientists. In desperation, Johnson used buying power to snaffle up the supplies. Speaking as a scientist, I must remind you of the short-sightedness of stockpiling medicines in a GLOBAL pandemic. This strategy sprang from Johnson’s desire to mask Brexit carnage with the COVID cover up. The result was a “Britastrophe”. Please check with scientific facts if you don’t believe me.” 

To cheer him up and keep it a bit lighter I sent him a copy of the song I wrote in 2020 to epitomise the word Britastrophe:

Kevin was undeterred :

“Don’t get me wrong… we were ill prepared for the pandemic and the preps and early actions were inadequate. I’m pretty sure the enquiry will recognise that. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy that early political action to stockpile and make early orders might have protected my friends, family, neighbours and their relations and friends in the UK. When it comes to avoiding death of my loved ones…I’m happy to jump the waiting list. We steal nurses from the third world ‘day in day out’ for the NHS so no new low standard applied there. I can’t see how being in the EU would have made a positive difference to the outcome for the UK quite frankly. I also think that SNP will find any cause to justify further separation, angst and years of pain in these islands that will be far worse than any political split from the EU. Some of us are Scots with families divided by politics on this matter. The SNP have hardly covered themselves in glory with their running of the NHS in Scotland for oh so many years after all. Now… an EU wide future plan including with the UK involved would make a lot of sense.”

I decided to challenge the basis of his competence. I am quite sure that Kevin is a competent CEO of a building society, but not so sure about this matter of science :

“Kevin, I imagine that you are NOT a biologist, epidemiologist or similar. As I said, your first statement was demonstrably wrong and the stockpiling of medicines is not a victimless crime. I’m quite disappointed that a CEO can have so little systemic thinking.”

Kevin defended himself again : “We sadly live in an imperfect world where states do not have equal resources or peoples have access to the same levels of health care. I agree that stockpiling vaccine was not victimless but the NHS holds drug stockpiles as part of their business as usual. British citizens benefit from the NHS hiring foreign health workers, often at the expense of others’ health care. It’s not right… but the primary duty of the UK government is to protect UK citizens. Same elsewhere. The UK government was following the preps for the wrong pandemic and clearly failed to implement lockdown as quickly as it should have. They failed to see what had worked in Asia to control SARS. That undoubtedly cost lives. I still cannot see what difference being in the EU would have made though. Happy to be put right on that point. The seeds of our slow initial response were sown decades ago. The next pandemic could be far worse so let’s hope the learning is swift.”

I decided at this point to put some external expert support from a Government source and offered him a way out of his fake news and an opportunity to ‘kiss and make up’ online :

“Kevin. Please read full fact : COVID and Brexit. Now you may correct the record on here. People believe fake news so please add a fact check to your original post.

‘Wrong pandemic’ – coughs … 🙂 I won’t embarrass you further on here but you are welcome to an online leaders’ debate.

Re your point ‘Some of us are Scots with families divided by politics on this matter.’ I can help you with the family healing issue. Read my book on Rebooting Britain.

You made two further points : ‘They failed to see what had worked in Asia to control SARS. That undoubtedly cost lives.’

This was not so much a failure, which implies accidental ignorance. This was wilful ignorance. Johnson and Hancock deliberately put infected patients into care homes due to the false narrative of herd immunity and a non-existent protective ring. This cost 40 000 unnecessary deaths. As regards Johnson’s level of attention and focus on the problem, this image sums up his leadership skills in this area :

Brexit Too Little, Too Late
Johnson’s dithering cost lives.

You also said ‘When it comes to avoiding death of my loved ones…I’m happy to jump the waiting list. We steal nurses from the third world ‘day in day out’ for the NHS so no new low standard applied there.’

This too is a false equivalence. I won’t bore you with the details but it is one of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s skills. To learn more read the book. Both situations are deplorable (poaching foreign nationals and stockpiling drugs in a pandemic), but they are NOT equivalent.”

By this time I thought Kevin was probably looking for an equitable way out of the matter, having perhaps wished he had never begun this encounter. He used the well-worn Brexiter phrase in an attempt to find something we could agree about:

Kevin : “Well everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I hope we can agree on that. The truth will out in the end and I’m sure that we may all be enlightened. I’m pretty sure that we can also agree that it won’t be 100 years before the next pandemic.”

I’m afraid I could not let this false equivalence pass for peace either :

“Kevin. Facts trump opinions I’m afraid. When they are put in the scales of truth, facts outweigh opinions.

But you are most welcome to join me on a leader’s debate on ZOOM at your convenience with an invited audience on “Brexit Futures”.

Human intervention has probably guaranteed that it will not be 100 years until another health crisis, possibly fungal and far more problematic, but nonetheless, Brexit will have a deeper impact on lives and livelihoods in the long term than COVID has, save for those killed by Johnson’s careless care home strategy, for which there is no way back for them.

The Brexit impact films are worth a look – all fact checked.”

At this point, Kevin ran away as they often do. I would draw some lessons out from this dialogue ….

Lessons learned

Brexiteers can come from anywhere. Even CEOs and intellectually bright are susceptible to illusions about Brexit. This merely confirms that Brexit is a religion / ideology and we must use strategies that address beliefs and identity change rather than the usual toolkit.

The lies put forward by Brexiteers have been installed like permafrost on some people’s minds. I very much doubt that Kevin is stupid. I imagine he can count money, but maybe not microbes or viruses.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is powerful when a figure of authority is challenged online where position power counts for nothing. I gave Kevin several levels of expertise to help him revise his view that Brexit had helped the COVID vaccine delivery programme but he stuck to his previously held beliefs.

Online Brexorcisms are always problematic. See the reasons why in this extract from Reboot Britain below.

That said, other people watch these online interactions and stay silent. They are sometimes more important than the other person in the conversation. Kevin made himself and his company look pretty daft in this interaction.

I doubt I will be getting a Christmas card from The Bath Building Society … oddly enough Bath voted to Remain. I wonder if some of the good people of Bath are reviewing their local building societies …

Online Brexorcisms
Read the book by clicking the extract.

Rejoin EU

Vital statistics

I met a ‘Brexit statistician’ called Daniel on Facebook yesterday. Sadly, he turned out NOT to be a statistician but Daniel WAS a liar. Sadly, he was not a good liar and got found out. He questioned the basis for the data that says 63% of British people now think that Brexit is a mistake. I answered his questions about vital statistics with patience. See Facebook for the full exchange. When I asked him for his qualifications and some other details to validate his statements he ran away. This is typical of the last remaining (sic) Brexiteers. Here’s a summary of Daniel’s intervention:

Vital statistics – Daniel

If I were to credit Daniel with the benefit of the doubt, he tries to set himself in the small space of not being a remainer, nor a Brexiteer, some kind of Schrödinger citizen. At the same time Daniel refuses to validate his claim to be a statistician. This is a strange thing for a statistician to say. Instead he attempts to befuddle me with pseudo BS by suggesting he has been ‘doxxed’. I’m not saying that Daniel is not genuine, but statistically speaking, these are the behaviours of Brexiteers who try to discredit facts but hide when challenged. One thing Daniel says is correct though. The above exchange reminds me that online Brexorcisms are notoriously difficult but still I feel I must try. See this extract from Reboot Britain to understand why online differs from real life:

Online Brexorcism
To read inside Reboot Britain on Amazon, click the extract.

Last gasps

We really are now seeing the last gasps by the few remaining Brexiteers. They know that Brexit has failed, but a few still clutch their pearls, eager to diminish their cognitive dissonance over the contrast between what was promised on the tin and what they got instead. Even John Redwood went on Radio 4 this am to defend the indefensible. The vital statistics are compelling. Brexit is dead. We must Rejoin the EU. Check Reboot Britain out for strategies and skills to achieve the goal.

Giant Redwood talks bollocks about Brexit.
More vital statistics on Brexit – Well worth 14 minutes of your time.