Britain requires decisive collective leadership, of the style it has been known for, to clinch any kind of resolution to the blind balancing act that is Brexit, writes India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa.
With yet another Brextention and a new October 31 Halloween target for Brexit, the biggest loser in the match of wills on all sides has got to be Britain's reputation.
A country renowned for its sense of justice and fair play has failed to live up to any of its promise in the course of what is turning out to be a most destructive negotiation. To quote British Prime Minister Theresa May's own words, there is “huge frustration” because the UK should have left the EU by now.
Indeed, the March 29 Brexit Day has come and gone, with the UK going back to the European Union (EU) once already to ask for more time to try and get a repeatedly-defeated Withdrawal Agreement through a belligerent House of Commons. May herself has been on an ever-shrinking tightrope, having been forced to put a clock on her leadership by promising her Downing Street exit once a Brexit deal is agreed.
With this elusive deal nowhere in sight, the only thing that remains certain in the current political landscape is more uncertainty for businesses from around the globe who had chosen the UK as a stable hub. Among them are the 800 odd Indian companies, struggling to hold on to their optimism in the face of the ongoing parliamentary logjam over Brexit.
The danger under the current circumstances is that Britain is getting blinded by this never-ending push and pull between London and Brussels. If anything, it has shown the other 27 EU member-countries in a much better light. On the one hand, we have heavyweight leaders like Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron, with divergent views, being brought around to a middle ground by an astute European Council President Donald Tusk and on the other, are deeply-divided political parties in Britain unable to put their own house in order in favour of the greater good.
The persistent impasse is damaging the UK's prospects on the world stage, including with some of its closest partners like India. India has been busy with its own big political development of the year, with a mammoth seven-phase General Election now underway. But it will soon be ready to get back down to business when results come out on May 23 - with, as is being widely predicted, Prime Minister Modi returning to power for a second term. Ironically, that happens to also be the date of the European Parliament elections, which the UK now looks all set to contest at an unnecessary cost to the Exchequer nearly three years after the fateful June 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit.
Once India is free of its election restraints and a new government - most likely led again by Prime Minister Modi - takes charge, it will be proactively looking at continuing to build on its international alliances across all spheres. And, if it finds Britain still hung up on its Brexit fixation despite the much-touted Global Britain message, it will inevitably turn towards more prepared partners on the world stage keen on tapping into one of the few economies in the world that has shown consistent growth potential. Therefore, the 'Big Story' of the latest edition of 'India Global Business' offers a timely analysis of 10 reasons why a Brexit-hit UK cannot afford to ignore the Indian election and its outcome.
I am tempted to quote the formidable former French President Charles De Gaulle here, who said: “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” It would certainly seem like the time has come for the politicians in Westminster to prove that wrong and show some resolute collective leadership of the style Britain has been known for. That is the only way this blind balancing act that is Brexit can find any kind of resolution.