There’s a political vacuum and we can’t let Nigel Farage fill itby John McTernan / December 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
The business of America is business, said US President Calvin Coolidge. Now, more than at any other time, this needs to be adopted as the watchword of British companies. After the Brexit vote, there was a profound lack of political leadership. Space in politics never goes unfilled and leadership was—briefly, disconcertingly, but significantly—taken by Nigel Farage. The same phenomenon was observable immediately after the US elections. With the British political classes paralysed by a mixture of shock and grief, it was Farage who crossed the Atlantic to become the first foreign politician to meet President-Elect Donald Trump.
It is the great strength of politics that it allows us to dream of different possibilities. It becomes a weakness when those dreams become a denial of reality. Brexit means Brexit may be a mockable tautology But it affirms a truth—Britain is leaving the European Union. Similarly, Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated. No amount of opining, blogging, and tweeting will change that. If the only meaningful political leadership is going to come from Nigel Farage then Britain needs to look wider. The obvious place to look is business.
Ever since Theresa May became Prime Minister there has been a restless search for a theme by which to govern. First there was the reheated Milibandism of her speech in Downing Street, which made many people think the theme was going to be social justice. That was dumped when expanding grammar schools was revealed as an ambition. Then there was her conference speech which latched onto industrial strategy as the central aim—with a kick at those rootless cosmopolitans who have been the greatest entrepreneurs down the years.