Government and industry appear to occupy two parallel universes when it comes to the subject of 29 March 2019.
Brexit’s arrival is no longer measured in years but months. In fact, by now its gestation is equivalent to that of a human embryo. Complicated species though we are, it is hard to see the same period will suffice for the country’s transition from the EU womb.
The business world is alarmed but then so it has been since before the referendum. The government’s attitude cannot be gauged so easily – not least because there is so little sense of uniformity.
Most worrying is that those most committed to departure often seem the least willing to engage with the nitty gritty, striking poses that range from baffling sang-froid (D Davies) to truculent disengagement (B Johnson).
Intelligent commentators exist to put the Brexit side but from the touchlines, while Remainers who demand some light to balance the Brexit heat are denigrated
Intelligent commentators exist to put the Brexit side of the argument (Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo, Ed Conway, to name three) but only from the touchlines, while Remainers who demand some light to balance the Brexit heat are denigrated
The only certainty is that the vacuum at the heart of British government is likely to maintain for the foreseeable future. Industry must implement its own strategy as best it can.
Ironically it falls to a European, Patrick Deruytter (pictured) of Emerson, interviewed here, to remind us of the spaces where industry – specifically the process sectors – must seek to effect necessary changes at grassroots level.
The focus on top quartile performance has been shown to reap enormous dividends, utilising automation, digitalisation and predictive maintenance. Will a time come when the fetish in Westminster for pursuing unsubstantiated ideology takes second place to making a practical difference of this sort?
In the meantime, the challenge rests with industry.