Be forgiven for thinking that all is lost when absorbing what the media has to say about Britain at the moment. I’ve read articles that diagnose a ‘full blown identity crisis’, that the UK is ‘ill at ease with itself’ even ‘unmoored, heading to nowhere’. Well, sorry but this is just not the tone I recognise whether talking to people in West Cornwall or London. There is some frustration regarding the progress of EU negotiations and an understandable and entirely sensible demand for greater clarity regarding future trade and movement of labour.
I also see an emerging and strengthening sense of opportunity and better still, people have recognised that leaving the EU enables us to look afresh at how we do business, what matters most to us and what kind of Britain we want to be part of and leave to our children. In the past two weeks I’ve had three meetings to discuss our fishing industry in West Cornwall and on Scilly. Each has been constructive, positive and about building a sustainable and thriving future for Cornish fishing. I’ve attended meetings where equally ambitious plans have been discussed on how to revive and support our farming sector whilst protecting and promoting the environment. We are certainly not unmoored.
In a meeting this week with leading UK digital technology companies I learned that the UK is a world leading centre for entrepreneurs and that despite, and possibly because of Brexit, EU cities are ‘super keen to partner with London’ in the technology space. It is the case that Britain is the global hub of fin-tech (technologies used to support financial services). It was also stated that our Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is recognised as the most progressive regulator in the world making it easier for new technologies to establish within a flexible but safe regulatory framework.
The UK remains the fifth largest economy, unemployment is at an all time low, the gap between imports and exports is reducing, foreign investment is on the up as are our schools and universities. There are certainly some challenges, not least the skills gap, which if addressed will lead to many more skilled, better paid Cornish jobs. Rather than facing an identity crisis I believe we see an emerging self-confidence.