Authors

Peter Cook – how will Brexit end?

Europa United is delighted to welcome one of Britain’s most prominent anti -Brexit campaigners, Peter Cook, to our team of writers. Scientist and musician as well as an author of twelve books on innovation, creativity and leadership, Peter has been campaigning for a no Brexit since before the referendum 2016. In his first piece for Europa United, Peter outlines his strategy and thoughts on the current status of Brexit.

State of the Brexit Union

It is just months away from our scheduled date of leaving the European Union.  In the two years that have elapsed since our referendum it has become apparent that:

1. There remains no plan for Brexit. All the sketchy plans for Brexit (Chequers, No Deal etc.) are inferior to the deal we currently have with the EU.

2. There remain no answers to the question “How will Brexit benefit me or the country?”  Even former UKIP leader Nigel Farage  cannot answer the question, as we discovered recently in his reply to my question, an article for The Independent and most recently in conversation  with a panel from Vote Leave and Open Britain on LBC with Iain Dale.

3. There remains confusion about what Brexit means, although it has become clearer that Brexit offers no value economically, socially, environmentally, ethically and so on. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s best estimate of 50 years Net Present Value for Brexit will see my son aged 74 by the time he is likely to “break-even”. He will be paying for Brexit for all of his adult life. It’s not a legacy I want on my tombstone. How about you?

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The author’s letter

It becomes clearer with every day that passes that Brexit is simply the pursuit of a political ideology for the few, not the many. All challenges to Brexit, be they legal, technical, social or otherwise have been ignored by our Government and the official opposition, putting their parties before the good of the country and its people.

Some say that Brexit cannot be stopped, including my own brother. They are wrong. They merely demonstrate the condition psychologists call “learned helplessness”.  This occurs when people do not believe they can or should affect the outcome of an event and / or they don’t know what to do about it to alter the course of events. In my brother’s case he tells me that, although he voted to Remain, he believes it would be undemocratic to go against the will of the people. He knows that Brexit will be bad for him and his family but believes he must keep calm and carry on. I am pretty sure that the “silent majority” was a feature of Hitler’s rise to power as well.

In fact, Brexit is very likely to end, through the chaotic combination of a number of countervailing forces. Some of these are summarised in this series of “event strings” below. Different combinations of events lead to a number of end game Brexit scenarios, some of which are a slow painful death of the Brexit beast, others more rapid in nature.

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Brexit end game scenarios

In my work as a business consultant, I’ve used scenario planning as a “gaming” technique to help companies anticipate and respond to alternative futures. The approach was popularised by Shell in the 1970’s. It was a fortuitous meeting with Vince Cable, himself an ex Shell employee and fellow scenario planner, that re-ignited my enthusiasm to think about some of the more likely combinations of events that could lead to the death of the Brexit beast. Vince and I agreed that it was probably impossible to game all the possible permutations, but it was at least possible to consider the end coming, either from what I call “internal combustion”, put crudely, “heat without light”, or from a combination of “external shocks”. More likely, a combination of both. We are in disruptive times and a linear planning perspective no longer applies. Just consider how unlikely it was that Theresa May would get into bed with the DUP? Who knew that she would expect the taxpayer to fund the cost of stockpiling food, drugs and fuel as a strategy to frighten the country into submission and as a “game of chicken” with Michel Barnier?

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Scenario Planners in Shell suits

Here is some future gazing taken from the event strings.  The one thing we know about the future is that it’s unreliable. Please indulge me with your thoughts on the next 2-3 months in terms of disruptive combinations of events that will lead to the death of the Brexit beast.

It is almost certain that the EU will reject our proposals in October, after all they have consistently been a repackaging of the cake and eat it too proposals that characterise the UK Government hubris about empire and other historical and hysterical notions of a lost paradise.  The EU’s rejection will not be an act of belligerence. Quite simply, if the EU were to give Britain a special deal, it would open the floodgates in terms of other countries asking for similar treatment. What exactly would be the point of being an EU member when you could gain similar concessions without paying the club membership fees?

I consider “No Deal Brexit” to be a low probability currently, on the basis that it would guarantee that the Conservatives would be unelectable into perpetuity. It is however an incredibly potent way of silencing resistance … if we fall for it. The effects are unimaginable with deaths related to medicine shortages likely and I won’t detail them here as they are adequately covered at the “Who Cares About Brexit?” project. Suffice to say that, considering the near hysteria that occurred when KFC ran out of chicken, there is a real possibility of civil unrest within days of a No Deal Brexit. I do not believe that the rank and file Conservative MPs are self-harmers and we must not confuse what is a bargaining tool with the nation and the EU with a serious intent to “Make Conservatives History”.

Never underestimate the importance of entropy in extinguishing a political strategy. This is the stuff on which “Yes Minister” was based. The stoic efforts of our civil service work quietly but consistently to place obstacles in the way of Brexit from the many private conversations I have had with individuals in high and low places …

I talk a lot with people on social media on both sides of the Brexit dilemma. There is dismay on both sides about the lack of progress being made. Meanwhile the rhetoric continues to say that the “Brexit Titanic” has left the harbour and it will be plain sailing ahead. I am always much more interested in what is happening in politics behind the stage than on stage. Private conversations with people who face the politicians on a daily basis via SODEM indicate that it’s not plain sailing at all. This means that further defections, resignations, revolts and so on will continue through the party conference season, further weakening the “Brexit Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” to breaking point. We already see Boris Johnson starting disruptive operations in the Conservative Party and similar movements are taking place to the left. Movements in the centre may suddenly make it a more attractive place to be …

This is the end my friends

In conclusion, I estimate that Brexit currently has a likelihood of around 50%

It is never a good idea to pursue a strategy in the face of compelling evidence that it will not deliver a better future. Most serious politicians know this. The present difficulty for Theresa May and her Government is how to stop Brexit AND remain electable. A change to the “parliamentary paralysis” that has locked Britain in a state of political entropy can come from a combination of actions. Here’s my “Five A Day”. What are yours?

1. Continue to explain the benefits of EU membership and debunking of items labelled project fear as Brexit reality.

2. Challenge misconceptions that continue to occupy the minds of leave voters, sometimes sensitively, sometimes provocatively, depending on the person / group involved.

3. Ask your MP to have courage. Point out gently or otherwise that they are unelectable if they do not stand up for the best interests of the country.

4. Talk about the state of play and the fact that Brexit can be stopped, to friends, family, colleagues, burnt out Remainers, Leavers in regret, Leavers in denial etc. to target the issue of learned helplessness.

5. Marching, getting active locally in whatever way you can. Never let a day pass without doing something to “Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain”.

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Categories: Authors, Peter Cook

13 replies »

  1. Thank you Peter. Even if 50%, it allows 50% more optimism than some people feel at present. Add the personal testimonies in ‘In Limbo: Brexit Testimonies from EU Citizens in the UK’ and ‘In Limbo Too: Brexit testimonies from UK citizens in the EU’, compiled by Elena Remigi, then take into account what Paul Drechsler, former president of the CBI, has said about European leaders, including Theresa May, who should be ashamed that they have not guaranteed the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU in the event of no deal. All round, it is perhaps beyond simply Brexit. An advisory referendum interpreted as it was is one thing, but to have achieved nothing in more than two years, to not listen to entrepreneurs, bankers and other finance people, academics, medical personnel, even farmers and fishermen joining in, now opinion polls indicating a vast change of opinion, we are living with the equivalent of a runaway train. It cannot be diverted, we know that because it has gone down the wrong route, reversed to go back on the main route to nowhere several times, so it needs to be derailed. There should be enough barriers in front of it now but somehow Theresa May is keeping it on track but going nowhere. The fact that a pile of inaccurate, totally repetitive and very shallow papers has appeared over the last week to spread gloom and doom regarding the outcome of a possible no deal, any claims to advantages get lost by the end of the first page of each, gives grounds for doubt. Yet where do people figure in all of this? They do not. Some of them put crosses on pieces of paper, that has been used to disrupt and instil fear in several million people who for the larger part had no say on what may be done with their lives. Thus said, we need to inject far more into growing your five closing points because the distress, depression and despair felt by people directly affected by Brexit needs to be part of a louder, wider and stronger narrative that does the derailing.
    I have linked this article to a number of sites of and for people affected by and fighting against Brexit.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much Brian. In terms of In Limbo, we did try to amplify this specific cause through a song titled under the same name – you can see the poignant video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jppmQGIqbqI

    As far as injecting more vigour into the resistance, we are tonight starting a new project called Civil Disobedience, to inject a little more adrenaline into anti Brexit activity. An empty frame website will be populated soon via http://www.brexitrage.com/rage/civil-disobedience/

    all the best

    Peter

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You wish to understand ‘Brexit’?
    Consider Fred West.
    His intention, in coaxing his victims to leave the outside world, was not to save them – but to control them.
    In exactly this same way – ‘Brexit’ is NOT about the EU. It is all about leaving us with no recourse but Party-Politics. By voiding the ‘agency’ of our vote. By exchanging the rule of law with Party-Political-Proclamation.
    Should ‘Brexit’ fail: We may enjoy fresh-air in the daytime, but we shall be condemned yet, to return to ‘Fred Wests” house each evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A good informative article. Thank you.
    I find it quite disturbing how the government uses tactics such as ‘learned helplessness’ and equally disturbed at how many people have succumbed to it.
    I’m also concerned that the government have been so vocal and focused on the subjects of trade and immigration and have stayed so conveniently quite about such things as human rights, civil rights, workers rights etc and I have to say it was the thought of what the government would do in this respect that was the main reason I voted remain.
    In my opinion we are well and truly shooting ourselves in the foot if we leave the EU. Lets hope common sense prevails before it’s too late.

    Like

  5. Hello there and thank you for taking time to comment. By chance I was at an event on Behavioural Economics last Friday and of course such approaches can also be used for good or bad. They have been used for evil by our Government to polarise and numb people into acceptance. I sense people are waking up (slowly) to such things, but there is so much to pay attention to in modern society.

    The phrase “it’s a good day to deliver bad news” has never been so true !!! 🙂

    Jeremy’s announcement plays along with one of my scenario threads and possibly averts a meltdown in his party … but he really needs to have found the word NO to use with Brexit, as I articulated in this song I wrote on the topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej7b8tbtTz4

    All the best

    Peter

    Like

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