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Britain: Between Now and Article 50

by John Brian Shannon | July 21, 2016

Until Article 50 is triggered by UK Prime Minister Theresa May thereby setting the stage for exit negotiations from the European Union, it’s tempting to think about what could be accomplished in the meantime.

Making this the time to focus on the reasons 52% of the UK electorate voted to leave the EU and to try and design policies that actually solve their problems. Remember, this is more than half of the UK electorate we’re talking about — not some jolly sods down at the pub having a pint.

A majority of normally complacent voters woke up and decided to vote for real change, and big change.

If Theresa May’s government doesn’t bring positive change they will vote again and Jeremy Corbyn will ride the protest wave into Number 10 Downing Street without needing to utter a word. At that point, the only possible person who could prevent his ascension to the Prime Minister’s office would be Corbyn shooting himself in the foot. And even that might be forgiven.

With that level of motivation in mind, let’s look at what PM Theresa May might reasonably accomplish on the path to meeting the needs and wants of the UK’s frustrated electorate between now and and the day she triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty locking-in Britain’s choice to leave the European Union with a non-negotiable 2-year deadline.

The geopolitical or geoeconomic reasons for Europe’s economic misfortune are of little importance to UK citizens, what they want are their jobs back!

Therefore, JOB #1 for Theresa May must be to create as many jobs as possible in the shortest timeframe — and not minimum wage jobs.

The question is: How to do that?

(Easy) PM Theresa May must send her senior ministers to every Commonwealth of Nations member country in a fact-finding and job-creation mission, and also to invite every organization in those countries to move their headquarters (or a branch office) to Britain where the goal of ‘jobs for Britons’ will be the underlying motive.

Britain - Choose a prestigious address in London, UK for your organization.

Choose a prestigious address in Britain for your organization. www.the-shard.com

Q: What prestigious organization doesn’t want a London address? A: They all do!

They simply, but profoundly, need assistance from a “Welcome to Britain!” department of the UK government designed to cut through red tape and facilitate on behalf of those organizations wishing to add a prestigious London address to their brag list.

If the city of London real estate is deemed too expensive for some organizations, do we know the selling points of other UK cities? ‘Find that now, Smithers.’ And then advertise the virtues of those particular cities, as well as the virtues of London real estate.

Every company listed on a stock market anywhere in the world, startup, and every NGO must receive a sincere invitation from Britain’s government to do business in the UK, with plenty of follow-up, and they must be guaranteed a streamlined process. No amount of hand-holding should be considered too much for organizations willing to create more than 25 UK jobs.

A flashy and informative website “RelocateToUK.co.uk” with a toll-free number; “Want to relocate your business to the UK? Call the Prime Minister’s office now at 1-800-GroYourBiz” (or whatever) must be prominently advertised around the globe on everything from cruise ships to telephone booths, on transport trucks, buses, and on passenger and cargo aircraft.

The Commonwealth of Nations comprises 53 nations with a total population of 2.3 billion people. Therefore, sending out one cabinet minister per month is simply not going to cut it.

I’d send one cabinet minister off every 3 days to various Commonwealth nations, telling them as they leave, “Don’t come back until you’ve got firm commitments for a minimum of 1000 UK jobs, or a billion pounds sterling FDI.” And if they don’t come back, they were deadweight anyways.

If Theresa May sets the bar too low then only a few UK jobs will be created — but by setting the bar and career rewards high, thousands of jobs will be created and high and regular inflows of FDI will become the norm rather than the exception.

This must be ongoing for the next 10 years, it can’t be a one-time flurry of activity.

With 2.3 billion people in the Commonwealth(!) failure to bring home 1000 jobs, or 1 billion pounds sterling in FDI per week, should result in termination of the minister’s employment. But done right, it should be easier than a walk in the park.

India alone should represent a minimum of 5% of UK GDP. And if not, we’re doing it completely wrong.

This has got to be JOB #1 for the government until a stable unemployment rate of 2.5% is reached. Hey! The very survival of Britain is at stake. No lollygaggers.

(Easy) Mandatory job-sharing legislation written and passed by September, 2016.

Those not counted as workers (students/retired/independently wealthy) aren’t eligible to access the job-sharing scheme. But for workers, every worker in the UK must be guaranteed a job for a minimum of 6 months per year — thereby accumulating enough work hours guaranteeing them (hassle-free) unemployment insurance for the remainder of the year.

Hence, workers are either ‘working’ or ‘receiving guaranteed unemployment insurance’ with no ‘other’ category for workers.

And not one worker left behind on social welfare, NOT ONE!

Some employed people may receive layoff notices in order to make room for those who’ve yet to work a full 6 months in the calendar year. As long as they have their guaranteed unemployment insurance benefits to fall back on, that is the sacrifice that they along with everyone else must make in order to forge ahead and out of the present economic moment. And within 6 months they’ll simply return to their previous job. No drama necessary.

Sweden has operated a job-sharing scheme (through it’s unions) for decades, and it has been a stunning success and although Swede’s tend to keep their successes to themselves you can read more about this fascinating programme here; In Sweden, Nobody Sleeps in Dumpsters

(Medium) The economic models of Norway and Sweden are very interesting models indeed, for instead of low tech/low risk/low reward, complete with millions of manual labourers that must be kept busy (the ‘Low Economic Model’) the Nordic workforce is primarily made-up of high tech/high demand with a distinctly export-oriented focus (the ‘High Economic Model’)

With the relatively high sterling, the Low Economic Model just won’t work. Rather, the UK must rapidly complete the move to a high tech/high demand export-driven economy.

If we look at the Taiwan experience; That country had little in the way of natural resources save for a massive hydro-electric dam and smallish fishing and forestry resources.

It was a country that was destined to mediocrity, until one day a very smart person decided that Taiwan would become the world’s #1 supplier of computer chips.

Everyone laughed. But the rest is history. From next-to-no-resources and a then mostly unskilled workforce, Taiwan now ranks as one of the seven economic wonders of the world.

It turns out that Taiwan’s #1 resource was it’s people, once it switched to the High Economic Model.

The UK government must adopt a similar mindset and act as facilitator to UK companies, encouraging them towards massive high tech, high value and high demand exports.

Artists that create multi-million dollar art installations around the world must be near the top of that list. Maybe ‘give them Soho’ at a special low property tax rate to set up their galleries and headquarters.

Similar should be done with the world’s top architectural firms. They too should be cordially invited to a special low tax zone part of London where they can design and build the office tower of their dreams in order to showcase their design talents.

Do you like billion dollar movies? We do! If California can lure practically the entire U.S. movie industry away from New York City (which they did from 1950-1970) then the UK can lure half of Bollywood to Pinewood Studios (for one example) and court the world’s movie industry luminaries until Buckinghamshire is full to the top, filming movies or even parts of movies in cooperation with almost every other movie company in the world. And the same applies to Theatre, and not only the Shakespearean kind.

The Low Economy jobs must be slowly purged from the UK but replaced 2:1 with High Economy jobs.

By responding to the main disappointments of UK voters with a view to resolving them quickly, and acting in ‘virtual crisis mode’ until we achieve the results we want — 1000 new jobs can be created in the UK every day, billions of pounds sterling FDI can be added to the economy every week, and a renewed focus on relocating high value segments of the world economy to London can add significant GDP to the economy.

“Begin with the end result in mind.” — Stephen R. Covey

Former President Bill Clinton famously ordered a sign for his Oval Office desk which read; “It’s the economy, stupid.” Which on the surface, seems crude and out-of-place in the office of the President of the United States of America.

But every day, former President Clinton looked at the sign and it guided his thinking, perhaps subliminally while on overseas phone calls. More often than not, President Clinton would finish the conversation and then ask his caller, “How can I get some of your business here in the US?”

World leaders learned to have something ready to offer Mr. Clinton because they knew that after the business of the day was conducted, the President would ask, “How can you help me improve the U.S. economy?” (or words to that effect)

In that way, Mr. Clinton brought home the bacon every day for America, more than any single person in the country.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and her ministers would do well to post similar exhortations on their own desks, to remind themselves that each voice on the phone might well provide a billion pounds sterling worth of business for the UK, simply for the asking.

But if you don’t ask for it, you don’t get it. And that counts as a fail at the next election.

During a time of unprecedented global change with even bigger geopolitical change just around the corner, it’s no time for timid policymakers. Not only does the UK need larger-than-life politicians, it needs larger-than-life policies.

There isn’t a moment to waste, so let us begin.

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