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South

Empires come and go for good reason

09 Aug 2018
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The British Empire has evaporated. 

At its height it was the largest in history and, for over a century, it was the foremost global power. By 1922 the British Empire held sway over one-quarter of the world's population and a quarter of the Earth's total land area. Today we are struggling to hold on to Scotland. Times change.

Today we are I suspect witnessing the endgame of dominant western democratic political power. China is ascending in Asia, taking on Japan and expanding its reach into Africa and beyond, Russia is flexing its muscles in the Ukraine, Syria, the English Channel and Salisbury. Donald Trump seems more comfortable at summits with Messrs Putin and Kim Jong Un than with Mr Trudeau and Angela Merkel. Mr Trump has further torn up several of the international accords led by the western alliance on climate change, Iran and trade. Nato has under friendly fire. Brexit has the potential to weaken our security.
 
At the same time the Western Democracies are in a tail spin, laden down with huge debts and worrying more about immigration and data protection than their own safety and strategic trade interests. In this light Brexit will perhaps show up only as one step for a decaying empire. We have lost respect for our politicians, businesses are at often treated with caution and the press has been undermined from within. We sometimes seem more interested in protecting the employment rights of the individual than in making sure she has a job to go to.
 
As we fiddle, so democracy burns with the resurgence of fascism looking set to take over as the dominant approach to geo-politics if you listen to Barack Obama and Marion Albright amongst others.
 
Never mind whether your business has prepared for Brexit, have you prepared for a world where protectionism takes hold, the rule of law has been weakened, and our privileged position as owners of the global trading language, its time clock and the international legal and funding arrangements comes to an end? Perhaps now would be a good time to start making more of the benefits built-in to your IoD membership?
 
Alex Pratt OBE runs innovative Buckinghamshire based Reading Lighting Manufacturer and is Chairman of the IoD South Region. All views expressed are personal and not those of the IoD.

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