Opinion: Happy to accept EU vote

The EU referundum outcome has raised many questions.
The EU referundum outcome has raised many questions.

That referendum ... I could see the arguments on both sides. The more I read, the more undecided I was.

In the end, I voted Remain.

I decided it was the best decision for the country, for my family and for the future of business.

But – by 52 per cent to 48 per cent – we voted Leave.

That’s democracy, and I’m absolutely happy to accept the result.

I’m not going to march on Westminster, dissect the make-up of the electorate to try to prove the result is invalid or claim that I was lied to.

For me, neither side came out of the campaign with any credit, but I accept the result, so let’s get back to business.

Except, that getting back to business may not be easy.

Quite clearly, we’re in for a prolonged period of uncertainty.

David Cameron could hardly be an effective Prime Minister in the weeks leading to his replacement which took place earlier than anyone anticipated.

The vote to leave the EU is unquestionably the biggest political upheaval in our lifetime and no-one has a clue what’s going to happen.

Will the new PM invoke Article 50 straightaway? Will there be serious negotiations before we do that? Will other European leaders insist that ‘out is out’?

Or could Parliament decide that the referendum was only ‘advisory’ and we all find ourselves back in the polling booths?

The pound went down – at two per cent to $1.29 at one point (and now at $1.32) – and the UK has lost its AAA credit rating.

Conversely, the stock market has defied the predictions and climbed above 6500 (and spookily reached 6666). Amid the chaos, the BBC reports that business pessimism has doubled since the referendum result.

‘Uncertainter and Uncertainter,’ as Alice might have said.

But however uncertain it might be, we still have to run our businesses – and we still have to keep our best people.

It’s something I wrote about a while back in ‘The War for Talent’.

If there’s one certain effect of Brexit, it’s that the war will intensify.

One thing struck me very forcibly in the referendum campaign ... how strongly talented young people identified with Europe.

Brought up on foreign holidays, they see absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t work in Berlin as easily as Birmingham; Munich as easily as Manchester.

So businesses are going to have to fight to keep their key people.

Working conditions, flexible hours, the culture within the workplace – they’ll all be crucially important.