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LETTER: We have lost our ambition to be the best in the world

Readers' letters | Published:

A reader discusses Brexit and its impact on the country.

Brexit

As I have written more than once, my childhood was tough yet I eventually became a substantial shareholder and director of a company that traded internationally and which grew from a turnover of £170,000 to £34 million.

Britain eventually controlled countries which made up 25% of the world’s land area and I’m afraid that has robbed us of determined ambition. Germany, Japan and the USA have never controlled such an Empire, but they have remained very ambitious. They came out of WW2 still wanting their country to be the best.

We came out of WW2 believing that the world owed us a living and I’m afraid, as Brexiteers are about to find out, life is not like that. Yes we spent a fortune in our efforts to keep the world free but no-one was/is interested in rewarding us for that.

The USA surely should have been grateful enough to give us the money to rebuild our country but no, they gave us a huge loan that had to be repaid. We had to live through the post war years with that debt looming over us just as all the money this Government is borrowing will loom over us for years. Every financial move we make in the future will be made with that debt in mind. After WW2 ended we failed to manufacture on the back of our own innovations because the government was not prepared to invest in our economy.

Our unions were more interested in flexing their muscles than in making us manufacturing world beaters. While much of the developed world were building and running electric and diesel trains, we were using steam driven trains into the mid 1960s. We held on to old machinery and old work practices which resulted in the goods we produced being shoddy and late on delivery. Our own people began to buy white goods and cars made abroad because they were more reliable, more long-lasting.

As members of the EU we could draw on a very quick and almost bottomless supply of components and goods that propped up our comparatively poor productivity. We had a sales market that was good for our innovative and ambitious small to medium-sized companies. Communication with our EU customers and suppliers was as easy as dealing with those in our own country. For those who think that the EU will go easy on us just think what your attitude would be towards Scotland if it leaves the UK.

Will you want to continue our previous close trading relationship? I think not and neither will the rest of the EU want trading with the UK to be as easy as it has been. We will, as Angela Merkel has said, have to live with the consequences. I am 77 and have an ambitious bucket list to achieve, so while I will continue to expose our straw man government, Brexit I will now leave to wreak its own revenge.

Roger Watts, Walsall

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