The second round of Brexit negotiations are well underway, no doubt being followed worldwide in the first big test for the Conservative–DUP supply and confidence agreement.
We all knew how difficult the task in hand was going to be, and we will now start to see this in full motion.
It is expected that the attention of the talks will focus on the Brexit bill, and the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – an issue widely debated during the General Election campaign.
Whether we like it or not, since the Brexit vote last year the lives of the British public have been dominated by the decision.
And even though there are a lot of people who may choose not to have an opinion on the matter, it’s clear that Britain is as divided as ever over the hard/soft Brexit debate, with the government and opposition tearing themselves apart over different ideals of our post-EU position on the world stage.
Despite this division, a recent study found that the British public demonstrated a long-term resilience, with 69 per cent stating they are still proud to be British – a warming sentiment following such a tiresome year.
As we have seen, terrible recent acts that would usually divide people have actually created unity, such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Brits have rallied together to help one another – not panic – and reaffirm their identity to create stability amongst our communities. The ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert, Grenfell charity single, and donations for the victim’s families are great examples of this, uniting the nation and showing pride in being British.
This attitude is something that businesses need to understand. With this renewed sense of unity brings a new opportunity for businesses to be part of the conversation and connect with people on a real life level.
Within the business world it would be hard to deny that there was a sense of real disappointment in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote; and there are indications that this disappointment is justified, with a report from the Centre of Economic Business Research (CEBR) finding that lost access to the Single Market in services after Brexit could cost the British economy some £36bn a year.
But it’s how you react to this change that defines a business and demonstrates its ability to evolve and succeed in times of disruption.
Smart companies will invest in specific areas with intelligence, demonstrating that they are able to retain stability in this uncertain market. In fact, research has shown that those businesses representing stability, reliability and permanence, such as John Lewis, connected with the British character in a meaningful way and were the most valued by the British public.
These bedrock businesses are firmly rooted in a clear set of values and provide confidence in the face of uncertainty.
This confidence has never been more needed following the madness of the election. It’s been documented that 18-24 year olds set themselves apart as a distinct voice in national opinions; they are decisive in their views, and willing to cut a business or a friend loose if they disagree with them.
So when Corbyn spoke directly to this group, and made Labour’s manifesto relevant to this audience, it stirred passion and support. Brexit galvanised young people’s interest in politics to a much greater level than ever expected and businesses now need to recognise this.
The distraction of a General Election, as well as tragic events, has left us no further forward on Brexit than we were last June. This second round of negotiations gives us a chance to take hold of new opportunities and begin to unite as a nation once more.
The government needs to deliver a clear plan of action and pave the way for positive progress to be made. Once this has been achieved we can start gaining the confidence of Europe and the rest of the world again, creating better business opportunities and a united Britain.