Brexit: The Human Cost

Picture of a European woman looking worried

Brexit: The Human Cost

It has been a tumultuous week in British and global politics, and whilst I have adopted a pragmatic approach to the result of the Brexit referendum — embracing the vote to Leave, even though I voted to Remain — on reflection, I may have focused too much on the strong economic arguments that countries like the UK, Norway and Switzerland are better off outside the EU, and not enough on the human impact.

Today I went to my local dry cleaners, and spoke to the husband and wife team who have built an incredibly successful business in the heart of one of London’s nicest neighbourhoods, having moved to the UK from Romania a couple of years ago in search of a better life.

They are two fantastic entrepreneurs who have brought energy, enthusiasm and a great work-ethic to London and who love their new lives here and appreciate everything that living in the UK has allowed them to do.

However, the Brexit result has rocked their world; they are genuinely scared.

They now worry that people don’t want them here in Britain, and that the great life that they have built for themselves is under threat.

They worry about how having to return home might affect their families and their future.

They worry that what they have fought hard to build may be destroyed by a vote in which they had no say and no voice.

We talked about this for about 30 minutes, and it gave me genuine pause for thought.

I remain excited by the opportunities ahead for an independent Britain and the potential for forward-thinking, globally-oriented policies to set us up for success as a major trading partner for the rapidly developing nations that will shape the future world, but, before we get there, we must ensure a number of things:

Clarity for EU Nationals

There must be clarity for the millions of EU nationals living and working in the UK, and a strong political voice confirming that there will not be any push to force them to relocate to the EU once Britain leaves — they must be given certainty about their place in British society.

Acknowledgement of London’s Unique Role

London must be treated as an exception; most Londoners voted to Remain, and so whilst the wishes of the majority of the electorate must be respected, the Mayor of London is right to seek greater powers to allow people to work in London through some sort of special ‘London visa’, recognising London as a special economic and cultural zone as the pre-eminent global city.

Strong Leadership

The Conservative Party must quickly select a leader with the skills necessary to unify the nation, but also to negotiate our exit from the EU in an orderly manner.

As a member of the Conservative Party, I will be voting for Theresa May for leader.

She brings experience of serving in Government at a senior level, of negotiating hard with Europe, whilst at the same time being someone who was minded to Remain in the EU despite understanding the benefits of leaving.

Ms May will be able handle the detail and minutiae of the negotiations, whilst not coming from too firm and ideological approach, which rules out Michael Gove as leader in my mind.

A 10-point Plan

We need a 10-point plan detailing the key steps that we will take from where we are today to get to a bright future with the UK outside the EU.

This is a hard road to travel, and one that many of us would not have chosen to go down, but living in a vibrant democracy requires flexibility and collaboration; Brexiters and Remainers alike must now work together to articulate clearly to the world the steps that will be taken and then to make them happen.

Everybody Needs to Calm Down

HRH The Queen has already provided some of what is lacking in our politicians; a calming voice, urging people to stop and think about the future, rather than rushing into knee-jerk reactions.

Whilst many are putting their energy into trying to secure a second referendum, and into calling anyone who doesn’t agree with their views ‘thick’, or ‘xenophobic’, the sensible thing to do is to develop a clear strategy for the future with a cool head.

Her Majesty said in her speech at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament that it was a time to allow “room for quiet thinking and contemplation”, and as is so often the case, she is absolutely right.

In my final thoughts, this situation reminds me of my favourite poems, the classic ‘If’ from Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

There is undoubtedly a rocky road ahead, but with the correct approach and the right leadership, the destination will be worth it.

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If you didn’t vote in Brexit, your opinion is not valid.

This is a little message for those who were entitled to vote yesterday in the UK EU Referendum, but didn’t – I don’t care what you think about the result; your opinion on the matter is not valid to me.

People fought and died to give us all the vote, and yet still some of you were too lazy to go out and cast your vote yesterday, but now have the gall to complain about the outcome.

If you couldn’t be bothered to vote – to exercise a right afforded to you by the blood, sweat and tears of others over generations – then I don’t care what you think today.

Your opportunity to share your opinion was yesterday.

Your opportunity to shape the outcome was yesterday.

You chose not to use it, and today your opinion is worthless.

Thanks!

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Brexit: an historic day that will change the world.

Whilst I voted to Remain in the EU, I woke today to hear the news about the British people’s decision to leave to European Union and was immediately filled with excitement and pride.

In reality, no one can predict the likely outcome of the two year process that we will now enter into to leave the European Union.

My arguments to remain were economic, but my heart told me that we should be leaving.

Having exercised my democratic rights, and having seen my fellow Brits exercise theirs, today there is a sense of relief that an argument that has rumbled on for several years has now been settled.

I am not a European and have never felt like one, but I am proudly English and British and I am 100% certain that we will make this new arrangement work, whatever the short-term impact.

The Brexit vote will have important repercussions around the world, and I predict that several things will now happen:

  • Ultimately, the EU will collapse. The European political elite have failed to win the hearts and minds of their citizens, and the European experiment is not working; Europe’s citizens will no longer tolerate faceless bureaucrats in Brussels deciding their futures.
  • The United Kingdom will re-form into three or four independent countries, with a strong, economically vibrant England separate from a Scotland, Wales and possibly a Northern Ireland that increasingly see themselves as European.
  • Donald Trump will be elected President in the United States as the political elite there demonstrate that they are out of the touch with the electorate who will take the plunge and vote to change the system by selecting the populist maverick, rather than the establishment candidate.

Ultimately, I believe that after two years of economic turmoil, Britain could ultimately be better for this result, but it will require a lot of hard work and uncertainty.

The vote is over – it is now time for us to pull together to make this new arrangement with Europe work.

As is often the case, all eyes are on Britain, and the British voters may have created a shock-wave that will pulsate around the world changing the political order and the institutions that control our daily lives.

Exciting times ahead!

An image representing the Brexit vote

British and EU flags

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Marcus East’s TEDx Talk on Dark Technology

Last night I gave my first TEDx talk on what I have labelled ‘Dark Technology’ at the TEDx event at the University of Manchester.

Marcus East's TEDx Talk on Dark Technology

Marcus East TEDx talk on Dark Technology

It was an honour to be part of such an interesting and stimulating event, and a privilege to have been given an opportunity to share some of my thoughts on things that are so important to me!

I wanted to share my thoughts on how humanity is struggling to cope with the pace of technological change that is being driven by commercial and scientific advances in technology, and the possible dangers that could exist in a world where the powerful are able to use technology as a tool to control the weak.

From Police Robots to Armed Drones, I touched upon some things that I think everyone should know about, and audience seemed to enjoy it.

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The staggering scale of the loss of human life in WWII

This brilliant infographic video highlights just how many millions of lives were lost in World War II; it is truly staggering:

Watching this video serves to remind us just how devastating war can be; let’s hope that it was a war to end all wars and that we never see a loss of life on this scale ever again.

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Is Humanity really any more civilized today than 1000 years ago?

Is Humanity civilized?

When I hear religious group A say that all of religious group B are bad, and then religious group B in return say that all of religious group A is evil, it is a reminder that despite smelling better, living longer better and having more shiny things, humanity really hasn’t come that far since the Dark Ages.

Today, millions of people are displaced on every continent – struggles in Syria, Ukraine, Thailand and all over Africa only help to underline the extent of human suffering caused by other humans.

Something must be done to take humanity to a new level of understanding where one group identifying another as their enemy and rationalizing their oppression as somehow justified based on moral or economic measures is not acceptable.

Here’s hoping for peace and goodwill for all of humanity.

Refugees escaping conflict in the Middle East

Refugees escaping conflict in the Middle East

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Seeing NYC’s recovery from 9/11 has moved me!

An iPhone 5s picture looking up at 1 World Trade Center from the 9/11 Memorial

An iPhone snap looking up at 1 World Trade Center from the 9/11 Memorial

After my meeting this morning in Wall Street, I spent a couple of hours in the World Trade Center area, visiting the 9/11 Memorial Center where there are some incredibly powerful recordings, photos and artifacts from that fateful day in 2001.

I think that what happened then in NYC, and the determined response from New Yorkers serves a potent symbol of the failure of terrorism and extremist ideologies.

Despite the tragic loss of life, and the scars left on this truly great city, New York was not defeated that day; the attack seems only to have made the people of New York stronger…

I can feel the defiance in air, sense it in the swagger of the people and see it in the proud, strident architecture of the new buildings that are rising gracefully in the place of the Twin Towers.

Long live New York!

Picture of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, World Trade Center, NYC, New York

The 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, World Trade Center, NYC, New York – from my iPhone 5s.

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Arsenal – FA Cup 2014 Winners!

Today I was reminded why I’m an Arsenal fan…

I was reminded why I have sat in the wind, rain and snow losing my voice through screaming at players who cannot hear me – and rejoicing in their genius when not despairing of their failings.

I was reminded why I’m proud to wear the crest, even when we crumble under the brilliance of our competitors and the brutality of poor refereeing.

I was reminded what it means to face down adversity and to look deep into ones soul to find the resolve the carry on, only to prevail at the last minute when belief is tested beyond hope.

I was reminded that North London is red, has always been red and will always be red.

Arsenal FC – FA Cup Winners, 2014 – we are the champions, my friend.

Man waving an Arsenal flag

A picture of a man waving an Arsenal flag as Arsenal FC win the 2014 FA Cup competition

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Praising controversy?

Apparently, I’ve caused a ‘political storm’ by publicly praising Enfield Council officers for doing great work…

I’m sorry, but credit where credit is due; they have maintained a high standard of services whilst their budget was reduced by nearly 30% – in fact, resident satisfaction has gone up and no frontline services have been cut despite the budget reduction.

If praising that kind of performance is wrong because I’m a Tory and we’re meant to only bash the Public Sector, then I’m happy to be wrong all day long.

The fact that we have public servants who are prepared to do twice the work for half the money that they could get in the private sector is one of the things that makes this country great; we should be proud of that whichever side of the political divide we are from.

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I have a confession to make.

Illustration of the human brain

Intelligence – the most attractive characteristic!

I should be embarrassed to have to make this confession, but I’m not, because this has been an important realisation for me…

I’ve finally learned, after forty years, that the characteristic that I value the most – and find most attractive – in the opposite sex, is intelligence.

I don’t really care how long a lady’s legs are, or what her waist size is – what turns me on these days is intellect and intelligence.

Arguably, I should have known this many years ago, but I think that men are conditioned by media and society to value women mainly at a superficial level and it takes some maturity and self-analysis for a man to understand that.

It is just a coincidence that lots of the women that I am close to are beautiful; in reality it is their intelligence that makes them special to me and if I had realised this many years ago, I think that I would have made me a better person.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to flame me, because I probably deserve it.

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