Opinion

Why business leaders are key to fixing Brexit

5 min read

15 January 2019

Entrepreneur turned investor Jamie Waller believes the country's business leaders hold the key and have the necessary skills to negotiate a better deal for Britain.

As Brexit reaches a conclusion on 29th March, and the key commons vote takes place this week, prime minister Theresa May will deliver a speech with the stark words: “People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm.”

It is concerning that during a year this seminal for the UK politically and historically, even the prime minister is aware that the public level of trust in the people responsible for making decisions that affect every aspect of our lives is astoundingly low.

This worrying admission, as well as actions from our politicians on both Leave and Remain is not boosting the public image of politics.

But are there a group of people better for the job of tackling Brexit?

I honestly believe that business leaders could have a pivotal role to play.

Following and understanding politics and current affairs closely is second nature to them, as decisions being made at the seat of power have an impact on the future and success of their businesses.

Hard working and often self-made, their ability to relate to how the outcome of Brexit will affect the everyday person bridges the gap between policy and reality that politicians are often accused of missing.

Having the acumen of how political rhetoric actually impacts the workforce can be an invaluable skill a business leader would possess.

But what about Donald Trump, the former businessman turned president? His brash, loud policies and constant contradictory statements are alienating the very group of voters he needs to appeal to and gain the trust of- the young.

However, there are key lessons to be learnt from his position of power.

Trump is proof that unfortunately, by the time most business leaders consider a political career, they are often too long in the tooth to truly relate to the needs and wants of an ever- changing society.

In the UK we have the same issue as the US. Turn on any news channel and you get Lord Sugar or Charlie Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers shouting their political opinions from the rooftops or even worse in Mullins’s case, what he would do as London Mayor.

If Mullins is the best the business world can produce for London Mayor, then in some ways, we are in a worse position than the US. Both are out of touch with reality and what the wide demographic of the public really want.

So what can we do to make a difference?

We need to break the ‘old boys club’ image politics has gained, so it feels like an accessible career option to the everyday person.

Imagine the benefits to be gained from using the skills of some of the best NHS consultants, teachers, and entrepreneurs if they changed careers and became politicians? In their peak career moments, making a decision that their knowledge and expertise could be used to help to run the country would be truly amazing.

We still want to see career politicians – that dedication and commitment should not be lost.

However, politicians who are emerging would do well to learn from the current situation of Brexit, that integrity and honesty, the pillar stones of good business traits will get them further ahead with the public.

Also, some support from everyday people and business leaders during a decision-making process that will change the country in March 2019 would bring added value.

Who knows, this might be the catalyst for change and hopefully in a generation or so, politicians from all walks of life will help the currently beleaguered career to make the move up the list of trusted professions.

Jamie Waller is a British entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor.