This is fine…

In denial, or in the know — some are clearly divorced from reality, what about the rest?
KC Green's now rampant meme "This is Fine" (Image: KC Green)

5 July 2019

The world is getting weirder.

Brexit Party MEP Anne Widdecombe recently stood up in the European parliament to make her first speech, after her party had, en masse, turned their back as the European Union anthem, “Ode to Joy”, was played to open the session.

MEP Widdecombe then went on to liken Britain’s departure from the union as akin to peasants rising up against a feudal lord, or slaves overthrowing an oppressor. Without any sense of irony at all, she seemed in her speech to be blissfully unaware of Britain’s imperial past, or indeed, one of the reasons the Brexit process has become as mired as it is, namely the status of Northern Ireland.




“Given the fact that the people who are most likely going to be in charge of the Brexit process come the dawning of October are so divorced from large sections of their constituents, are perhaps the people in HP Inc suffering a little from ivory tower views too?”

It beggars belief, but Widdecombe’s mad ramblings were only topped by the 4th of July speech by US President Donald Trump, when he erroneously claimed that the famous Continental Army led by revolutionary general George Washington seized the airports during the revolutionary war of 1776.

The first recognised airport in the Americas opened in College Field in 1909, after powered flight was cracked, by Americans, in 1907.

The irony here is that President Trump is such a catastrophically poor public speaker, despite the gaff, it was regarded as one of his better speeches.

But, to draw back a moment, despite the increasingly divorced from multiple realities nature of the Brexit Party, let us look more closely at the race for the Conservative Party leadership, and unfortunately, there appears to a different sort of divorced from reality quality.

The runaway leader in the race, Boris Johnson was speaking Darlington. He is quoted as saying there were “too many” areas in Britain where English was not people’s first language, which he asserted “needs to change”. Johnson said that he wants everyone who moves to Britain “to be and to feel British and to learn English. That’s the most important thing.”

This sentiment might come as a shock to large sections of British people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who proudly do not have English as a first language.

However, the quote illustrates that the political elite of Britain are currently serving only narrow interest groups as the fragmentation of support continues to erode their traditional bases.

The divisiveness of the Brexit process has so polarised the public as to make any effort towards unification a near impossible task.

But what, I hear you ask, has this to do with technology?

Well, all of these unedifying shenanigans have driven down the value of the pound, and also affected sentiment in markets. Investments have been put on hold or redirected. Business plans have been altered or shelved. Consequently, IT vendors, service providers and others in the technology sector have been affected.

A notable exception though, would appear to be HP Inc. The Register reports that in a filing to the UK Companies House, the largest PC maker in Britain and second largest globally, reckons that irrespective of what happens with Brexit, it will be tickety-boo.

“Following the referendum in 2016, we have been assessing the potential impact of Brexit on HP Inc UK,” says the firm in the filing.

“While there is still uncertainty as to the timing and nature of the UK’s exit from the EU, we do not believe Brexit will pose a significant risk to our business.”

Now, given the fact that the people who are most likely going to be in charge of the Brexit process come the dawning of October, by the end of which — Halloween night — the deed is hoped to be done, are so divorced from large sections of their constituents, are perhaps the people in HP Inc suffering a little from ivory tower views too?

Perhaps not. Perhaps the clever people there have decided that for the foreseeable future beyond 31 October, their UK business will be largely unaffected. Bully for them if that is so, and I genuinely hope it is. However, I suspect that this blithe spirit might not be as grounded as it could be.

Even if, as a business, HP Inc is in a position to maintain its supply chains, support and stock levels, I firmly expect anything short of the current Brexit withdrawal agreement being accepted in full before that dread night, will result in a level of uncertainty and fear in the United Kingdom’s business community as to make the thought of buying PCs distinctly secondary.

While life will not cease, and the venerable motto of “Keep Calm and Carry On” will most likely reign, it will be because they simply must in the face of a lack of political leadership or understanding as to how to tackle the situation.

Having shown no real leadership or inspiration, either as a minister or the back benches as voice in the house, Johnson as prime minister [shudder] is unlikely to under go a transformation — digital or otherwise — into a statesmen the like of which Britain has not seen since Lord Palmerston or Benjamin Disraeli.

I hope I’m wrong on both counts, HP Inc and potential PM Johnson.


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