I was recently pleased to learn of a report about the economic, diplomatic and cultural clout of countries around the world that named the United Kingdom as the world’s top soft power, writes Cllr Steve Lane, leader of the Werrington First group on Peterborough City Council.
The ‘Soft Power 30’ index measures a country’s soft power through objective data in six categories, namely government, culture, global engagement, education, digital and enterprise. This placing was a surprise, according to the report, given that Brexit negotiations have seen little tangible progress, and its authors believe there is a huge question mark over the UK’s future as a leader of global influence in the world.
Since its publication, I must say there is nothing that might challenge this, having been witness to the wall-to-wall coverage of shenanigans in government by leading politicians. To be honest, despite having a mild interest in politics, I am sick and tired of hearing from them and about whichever style of Brexit they support.
Ever since the Prime Minister took over negotiations with her infamous Chequers Deal last year there’s been open hostility to the plan, led by Uncle Tom Cobley and all, and each with their own idea for how the country leaves the EU.
It’s not about politics, so they should stop their posturing. I am sick of hearing of their assumptions about what will happen to the economy, food and pharmaceutical imports, agricultural and NHS workers, etc… these are simply forecasts, not facts. I did not vote for one party over others in the EU Referendum. Nor do I care who leads opinion polls, or who might be the next Prime Minister should Theresa fail, or what happens to anyone’s political career.
Instead, I would be happy if they woke up and smelled the coffee. It’s about time they felt the public’s mood and begin to lead their country. Brexit needs the support from all corners of the political spectrum, and not the division of recent days.
They should take a good, long look at themselves and realise exactly what they have failed to achieve, because the mother of all parliaments should be in its strongest position.
And yet, with over two years of negotiations behind us, I question our chances of reaching March 29 unscathed. I say this because we must remember that, following the EU Withdrawal Agreement debate on Tuesday of this week, and a divided vote that delivered a narrow majority, the Prime Minister is back where she was at the start of the year, and still dependant on the goodwill of our 27 European neighbours – hardly a position of strength.
With such an absence of unity, we might begin to question our government’s ability to influence, which falls in line with the Soft Power 30 report that concluded with: “Where the UK goes from here is anyone’s guess. It is not clear if HM Government has a compelling vision for what Britain will look like in five years’ time.
“Much remains to be done if the calls for ‘Global Britain’ are to amount to anything more than just a slogan.”
History shows that, despite it being a group of islands off the coast of Europe, the UK has been one of the world’s most influential of nations.
Its social and economic powers still put it amongst the big boys of the US and China. So, let us hope that once the dust has settled post-Brexit, this feckless group of Westminster politicians has not diluted the standing and ability that we always carried.