By Derek Wyatt
There is real anger across Continental Europe about the UK’s decision to pull out of the EU. This anger is felt by most who were persuaded by us to join especially Ireland. But there is as much anger in France and
Germany which will take decades to fix.
After all being in Europe meant we did not need as many diplomats there as they were centralised in
Brussels so we are short across the board in expertise in how to create what is being called Global Britain
in the Foreign Office. The Treasury has upped their budgets considerably which can only mean higher
taxes in the long run.
Global Britain is a poor title. Scotland may not find another way back to secede from the Union in my life
time but the country is disaffected. Northern Ireland is a chimera. It ought to be part of Ireland as it has
The Conservative Party by aligning itself with the even more right wing DUP to stay in Government will cost
both of them dearly. The border dispute which still festers and which seemingly no-one has an idea of how
to keep them open despite protestations shows us all how short of ideas we are, even though the
Referendum was over two years ago. A joint Northern Ireland-Ireland Government for fifty years and then a
Referendum would be welcomed by a majority, particularly the English tax payer.
The real problem post Brexit is there is no current Secretary of State or Permanent Secretary with a vision
on how we tell the world we are changing. There is a paucity of thinking beyond tomorrow. In the Great
Depression of the 1930s, one civil servant by the name of Rex Leeper created both the British Council and
the BBC Empire wireless service which eventually became the BBC WorldService. These two wonderful
examples of Soft Power are still are best shot today. Leeper was knighted for his vision.
We did have a vision and it was not so long ago. We all celebrated the coming of the second Millennium
back in 1999/2000. I was at the miserable Millennium Dome event which has subsequently been
transformed into the finest host of concerts and sporting events in the world. But the Dome was part of a
Lottery inspired play to celebrate the Millennium across the nation. And one part of that was the ten £50
million bids to add to the nation’s tapestry.
This was the press release the the Millennium Committee put out following awards to create Tate Modern,
The Lowry, the Eden Centre (part award), a pathway around the coast, the seed bank at Kew Gardens, the
Millennium Centre in Cardiff and connecting the canals between Edinburgh and Glasgow (quite
sensational) and more.
“We wanted to make a statement about our generation in the Millennium – what we could do, who we
wanted to be, and what we could achieve.” The results changed our landscapes across the Nation and we
are richer for them.
So, you can almost guess what is coming, here’s a thought. Rectify the Millennium Commission process for
Global Britain. As it is transparently obvious our current crop of politicians are pretty light on vision, let us
give the chance to tell the world who we are and what we stand for, to anyone but the likes of BoJo et al.
Let the Lottery and the Government create a fund for £1 billion and ask for solutions as to how we can
become the world leader in Soft Power.
After all that is all we have left.