I Would Love Today to Know What She Thinks of Brexit

I Would Love Today to Know What She Thinks of Brexit

Back in the 80s, long before I caught small business fever, I was a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs in the Bay Area and was getting a masters in Public Policy. Coro was and is an amazing organization, dedicated to creating smart, effective public leaders. Far more notable Coro alumni include Virginia Senator and potential Vice-Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the late, great movie critic Gene Siskel.

As part of my thesis project I needed to interview different subject matter experts and somehow someone told me I should call this smart, young professor at Stanford named “Cordaleeza Rice” (surprisingly, especially if you ask my editors, the misspelling was theirs and not mine.)

Professor Rice was very generous with her time with me and to this day I remember thinking, not only how incredibly smart she was, but how charming and prescient. She spent several hours with me explaining how the world was growing ever smaller and connected and helping me understand how change happens. This was long before the Internet, long before the fall of the Soviet Union. As I said, she was super smart and prescient.

I would love today to know what she thinks of Brexit.

It is above my pay grade to speculate on what Brexit means in a broader sense, but I do think it’s important to consider what it might mean to business generally, and small business in particular.

Whatever it is, it’s not good.

Consider this amazing statistic from the U.K. paper, The Guardian: 20% of British businesses polled were considering a move outside the country.


And while that is an incredibly high number, it’s probably not surprising. There is no doubt that Britain’s exit from the EU signals an era of increased global instability, and if there is one thing that businesses like, it’s stability. On Morning Joe this morning, former CIA director, General Michael Hayden suggested that what we are witnessing right now is nothing less than the unraveling of the 70 year old, post WWII order.

According to an interview with Fast Company, economist Jonathan Todd says that this unstable environment can easily ripple across the pond. “Businesses don’t respond well to uncertainty, and even though this event happened in Europe, it makes U.S. businesses wary,” adding that this is not a great environment “for starting a company or growing a startup.”

There is no doubt that the Brexit will similarly affect existing small business in the U.S., especially exporters. Scores, nay hundreds, of laws and agreements that govern importing, exporting, trade, immigration and more will have to be re-written.

There is also the psychological factor to consider. We are already in the middle of a recovery that, while producing jobs, feels stagnant to many. It is no coincidence that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both focused on economic issues and the perceived inequality of the current economic framework.

Two sides of the same coin.

When you couple that with 52% of British voters voting to leave one of the world’s biggest markets, calls for a Frexit in France and a Dutch Dexit, as well as a slowdown in China, one cannot help but conclude that the Brexit is a harbinger of an even greater global economic retrenchment, and no matter how you slice it, that is not good for small business here, or anywhere.

Look, as Americans, especially here on this long July 4th weekend, we really get breaking away from a perceived domineering power across the ocean. But to say that the Brexit was surprising is an understatement.

Then again, the redcoats probably didn’t think we would break away either.