Leadership, Strategy & Communication in Times of Crisis in the Context of BREXIT:
Lecture “Exposition of the BREXIT Disaster – Insights and Reasons” by Michael Cole
On April 26, 2019, award-winning BBC News correspondent Michael Cole gave his lecture at the Audimax. After a short introduction by Senior Researcher Uta Rußmann he gave insights at first hand and explained why the BREXIT is a tragedy for his country. After a summary by lecturer Bettina Gneisz-Al-Ani (Crisis Communication & Public Affairs) the audience could ask questions.
First, Michael Cole talks about a land split in half, where not only parties but also families are divided in two. He describes the way to exit the EU as “to climb the Großglockner in January in trainers” and compares the outcome of the Brexit referendum in 2016 as a “Turkey voting for Christmas”.
The British attitude towards the so called Continent was traced back to geographical and historical reasons by Cole. Great Britain always had a go west mentality. The form of the British island “turnings its back to the continent” mirrors that geographically, said Cole. Europe has always been associated with bad news, death and war. The Continent has never been of interest by the British except when there is an occasion to make money there. This is the reason why the EU is often called the rich men’s club.
The referendum in 2016 is not the political tool usually used in his country: “Referendums stink in a mature democracy”. He refers this measure as a tool of dictators.
The Role of Media
Cole points out that in 1975, there was a referendum regarding the position of the UK in the European Community (EC). At that time, the whole political climate was pro EU, this was reflected by the outcome of the referendum: more than two thirds of the voters were pro EC.
Cole attributes the mains reason why the climate in 2016 moved from “pro to no” to the massive propaganda campaigns of the four leading boulevard presses: The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. Their motto was “It’s the story that counts”. They undermined systematically the confidence in the EU. Knowing that the owners of that media and their sponsors were wealthy men but either no British citizens or tax exiles, e.g. the Australian Murdoch (The Sun) or Dyson, it seems clear to Cole that they persecuted their own economic goals. The outcome of 52% of the voters against EU was the result of that propaganda machinery that targeted the British people’s anxiety of immigration – a tendency of the shift to the right that can be seen also in Europe and the rest of the world.
The BREXIT is a tragedy according to Cole. There is no chance of living happily ever after. He would advise Prime Minister May to revoke and don’t leave, yet estimates that the chance that Great Britain remains in the EU is “slim to none”.
A great thank you to Michael Cole for his thrilling presentation and all the revealing insights!