I’m not a morning person. I never have been, and I am pretty certain that I never will be. I stumble about like a pantomime figure who’s been struck by a comedy frying pan over the back of the head. I’ve been known to pay considerably more for an afternoon flight rather than a dawn departure. However, ask me to give a presentation to a hundred unknown delegates at ten o’clock at night with five minutes notice and I’ll be fine.
So it must have been something pretty important that saw me up and about at 5.45 am today. I’d accepted an invitation from an old chum to a breakfast meeting at the House of Commons, given by the Genesis Group. I don’t know about you, but with a name like that, I was expecting a shadowy SPECTRE like organisation. Tanks of piranhas; white cats on laps, that sort of thing.
Sadly, it’s way more respectable. It’s a Parliamentary representation group of industry trade bodies. They send a delegate along, and then Genesis formulates wide ranging policy which they then present to Ministers, MPs and Lords.
Breakfast itself was quite grand and Old School, with around 60 guests seated either side of one very long table. I was sat next to the Secretary General of the Federation of Engineering Companies, and next to her was the man from the Market Traders. It was a very varied bunch.
Our guest speaker was the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling. He wasn’t bad , though fairly much toed the party line. No off colour jokes; a smooth operator. Naturally Brexit dominated the proceedings, and the mood in the room was very split. Broadly I’d say that most were remainers, now trying their best to make the most of it.
The most interesting discussions came from some of the other trade body representatives, many of whom have close relationships with their European counterparts. A common theme seemed to be that their initial anger, disbelief and hostility had abated and been replaced with a more pragmatic attitude. One of the other MPs there, Chris Davies, said that Europe had ‘stopped wanting to punish us’.
If there was one aspect of the breakfast meeting that I took away, it was the mood of determination in the room. Determination that Brexit will work; that it’s with us now and we have to put the vote behind us and move forward.
We shall see.