LETTERS: ‘I have seen Great Britain overcome much greater challenges than we now face’
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Some letters printed in last week's Opinion column suggested Great Britain is in an irretrievable mess and faces a doomed future.
True, we face great challenges and an uncertain future – but there is nothing we cannot overcome if we do not exaggerate the challenges, if we relate to facts rather than invalid myths, and if we work with our strengths and do not allow irrational fears to paralyse us.
One letter stated that 'We don't have any businesses, industry etc any longer. Everything is in Europe already, Japan and China etc'.
Currently, Great Britain has more functioning businesses than ever before, and we have the highest level of employment for decades.
In December 2018 Great Britain's unemployment rate was 4pc - half that of the Eurozone's 8pc. Unemployment in Greece was 19pc, Spain 14pc, Italy 10pc, France 9pc.
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Even the assumed prosperous countries, Austria and Germany, recorded rates of 4.7pc and 3.3pc - around the same as the UK.
Youth unemployment in much of Europe is a serious problem because young people have to compete with older and more experienced workers who are desperate to find jobs that will allow them to house, feed and clothe their families.
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The situation is much better in the UK, where our younger people have infinitely better prospects if they educate themselves to provide the skills and attitude that employers actually need and want.
I spent more than 40 years working in a manufacturing environment, mainly producing components sold to British manufacturers, and exporting product all over the world.
Our UK customers vary from small workshops employing a handful of people to large factories employing thousands – so it is inaccurate to claim Britain has no industry.
It is true that we have fewer people employed in the 'traditional' heavy industries, but those jobs were typically subsidised by the taxpayer, often led to long periods of unemployment, and frequently involved working conditions that modern thinking employees would not wish to undertake.
Also, unemployment figures indicate that most of those jobs have now been replaced by jobs in smaller, more flexible companies that can quickly adapt to changing situations and opportunities and, therefore, offer more rewarding and more secure employment.
The Small Medium Size Enterprises in the UK form the largest employment sector (next to Government and Local Authorities).
Further, far from being hopeless as suggested by previous correspondents, and unlike the situation 40 years ago, Great Britain's ability to invent, innovate and manufacture high quality product is now respected throughout the world.
That is why so many foreign businesses wish to buy British Companies.
It is often claimed that they do this to gain entry into the EU, but this is untrue because it would be cheaper for them to buy a corresponding Spanish, Italian or Greek company, to employ their available lower-cost labour, and enjoy easier transport links to the remaining European market.
I have spent a great deal of business and leisure time in Europe, and I have witnessed a growing dissatisfaction with the wasteful way the EU functions.
The word Union suggests a conglomeration of equal partners, but economic differences mean many Greeks, Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese and a growing number of French people do not feel remotely equal.
Most reliable Trade and Financial indicators suggest the EU is in a far worse position than the UK, the worrying growth of Nationalism in Europe is a destabilising influence, and I suggest the combination of failing economies and divisive social factors will make the future of the EU far less stable than that of an independent UK.
Like many people born before or during forties, I have seen Great Britain overcome much greater challenges than we now face.
I am sure we will emerge stronger and healthier if we keep our nerve and do what British people do when pressured.
Alan R Davey