The UK just Disrupted the world- let’s embrace this opportunity!
I’m a British startup founder, currently sitting in a café in Madrid, having launched our tech startup this week at the Cannes Lions festival in France. Tomorrow I fly back to London to watch England’s football game against Iceland. My wife is Spanish, our team has a Swede, two Spaniards, an Australian and an American. Our investors are in NY, our servers are in Texas, our office is in San Francisco, our partners spread from Silicon Valley to Turkey, South Africa and Tokyo. We are just one tiny startup from hundreds of thousands across the world right now shaping the trends in technology and the lives of billions of people. We have no choice but to be international. If we were not we would die very quickly.
I’m hugely disappointed just like half the UK that we’ve decided to leave the European Union. But now is not the time to mourn, or finger point. Or tweet petitions demanding reruns of the vote on social media. The British people have spoken definitively. While like many, I’m not quite sure the question ever needed to be asked, the referendum was an incredible exercise in direct democracy and any failure to acknowledge the will of the British electorate would tar the UK with the same brush as some of the most slippery despots we’ve proudly opposed in Africa and Latin America.
There are two paths now for the UK. A dangerous inward looking, timid and isolationist path, where we turn on each other and those in our own country, alienating, discriminating or worse against the foreigners that live there. A United Kingdom fearful of Europe, foreigners, each other and our place in the world. A kingdom that even great countries we have been bound to for centuries, Scotland and Northern Ireland, our closest family do not want to belong to. A place that quickly becomes irrelevant.
Or the route where we embrace the UK as a great independent country, ready to look forward, move forward, be bold and claim its new place in the world, open its borders to the best and the brightest, but also the most vulnerable. Champion the businesses of the future, not the past. Become a close friend and advocate of the European Union, strengthen even further our ties with the United States, and become an active voice for globalization within the Commonwealth. A UK that recognizes the world will move forward with or without it, and one determined to drive the agenda for compassionate globalization. A UK that puts globalization at the heart of its economic and political policy, that recognizes that the wealth of even the poorest and most vulnerable in society can best be increased through ever closer ties with all the peoples of the world. A UK able to move quickly and adjust its policies to take advantage of the technology changes eating the world. I sincerely believe that many who voted for Brexit also want this, and despite the uncertainties around us right now, I am very optimistic that this can be a huge opportunity for all the people of the UK. Just like a tech startup, the UK just disrupted the world. Let’s embrace it and make the most of the opportunity.