Interface Financial Planning is a pro EU company. We have dedicated almost 30 years to making the financial lives of ordinary people better and we are horrified by the financial damage that has already been done since the disastrous and corrupt referendum of 2016. We passionately believe that this is the wrong decision for the people and for the country. If the UK leaves the EU, all of us at Interface will be devoted to campaigning to re-join as soon as possible.
I am a political animal. I had the privilege to study politics to final year degree level at Birmingham University in 1972-3, studied Government and Politics with Anthony King at Essex University in 1974-5 and attained a master’s degree in social science majoring in Political Science and Political Philosophy from Birmingham University in 1982. I am probably the only Financial Adviser who has works by Marx, Lenin, & Hitler on the shelves in my office.
After my first class honours degree in Chemical Engineering from Aston University in 1972 I moved on to the study of politics and I tried to apply the same scientific rigour to different political philosophies treating Communism and Fascism simply as alternative ways of governing a country and I attempted to work out which was the best option. It soon became apparent that scientific rigour was not going to produce the solution and that objective factors alone were not going to provide me with an answer.
Human values and subjective factors had to become the focus of any analysis, and it became an assessment of what was right and what was wrong. Respect for human dignity became my most important criteria and I rejected both extremes of what are traditionally known and left or right.
Family experiences are bound to influence perspective and I think of my father-in-law with his stories of being a soldier at Ypres in 1916-18, when he told me about burying “twenty a day”: and my uncle who was a commando in the second world war – he proudly gave the badge that he had taken from a Nazi soldier who he had killed and which I have kept safely in memory of him and that young German soldier since. He did not fight fascists 75 years ago to see them take over the UK in 2019.
My grandfather was In the Irish Guards in the first world war and after Irish emancipation he moved to Dublin. My Irish ancestry has always been a strong identifier which has made me very empathic towards Irish independence and angry about the exploitation of Ireland by the English over the centuries. I have lived in England for 50 years and my three children have been born here but none of us think of ourselves as English. Joining the European Union in 1973 gave us our identity. We have been privileged to be able to travel freely through much of Europe and we are proud to describe ourselves as European – if asked for our nationality we respond with “we live in the UK so I suppose that makes us British” (but we are certainly not English).
The disastrous referendum of 2016 threatens to steal our identity and we are becoming stateless within a country dominated by English Nationalists. We are committed to maintaining that identity, so we now describe ourselves as ‘hard Remainers’. If we leave the EU, we will spend our lives in our quest to regain our identity as Europeans. We have become angry, and compromise is no longer an option, we want to join the Euro, have a European Army, have entirely open borders, and even drive on the right.
As a financial adviser of nearly 30 years I have dedicated my time to making the lives of ordinary people financially better. It has been tragic to watch people get progressively poorer as a result of the referendum result and if we leave the EU worse will come and many people will die as a result. This year I had one retired client in tears in my office because his retirement travel fund was no longer going to provide him with the amount of travel that he had planned for because of the fall in the pound. I tried to reassure him that at least in his case it was not a matter of life and death as it will be for many, but understandably, he was not easy to console.
If there is any good to come out of the corruption and malfunction that we now experience every day in politics in the UK it is the politicisation of young people. Until recently they would rather have talked about sport or music whereas now it is politics that seems to be foremost in their minds. If my experience in talking with them is anything to predict the future, then the present political system and its incumbent political elites will not be tolerated by the younger generation for too long. The referendum caused a schism in the UK that I wonder will ever be fixed and anyone who still thinks that the referendum to leave the EU was a good idea must either be ready to make loads of money or be deluded. The divisions are many: between the English and the Celtic nations, between the educated and those less so, between those with an understanding of history and those with none, and between the old and the young. In my family I have become something of a hero because my children have understood and received all of the benefits of the UK being a member of the EU and they are very angry at those being taken away. I am very proud that they have been to London on the million plus marches and elsewhere. When they are with their friends I find it very sad that some of them are no longer talking to their parents and at one interchange they said about their parents: “they have had all of the benefits of being in the EU and they voted leave to stop me from enjoying the same benefits” and then rather sadly saying “I can’t wait for them to die because that will be two less votes to leave” – very sad indeed.
From a business perspective Interface openly espousing our European credentials has been very positive. To start with our existing clients are intelligent, with similar values to ours, and they love that we stand up for what they believe in. They love our EU flag in our office and drinking tea from our EU cups. The more that I listen to the rhetoric spoken by Leavers and Remainers I have found that the former are generally irrational, illogical, and bigoted, whereas the latter are the opposite. The Leavers have almost exclusive claim to the racists, fascists, and intolerant people, whereas on the whole Remainers are much nicer people.
One of my clients described a vote to leave the EU as “a cry from the dispossessed or the never possessed” and he went on to say: “this group of people wouldn’t need the services of financial adviser because they don’t have any money to advise them on” and for a large section of Leavers no one can deny that truth.
A business colleague suggested that I could still advise Leavers but provide them with investment funds where they were guaranteed to lose money because “they do not seem to care about making themselves and the whole country poorer”. His suggestion made me smile but there are simply too many people out there who share my values that deserve my help.
Many of you have approved of the links in the top right-hand corner of our website where the UK flag links to Britain for Europe and the EU Flag links to European Movement both of which receive our support.
If you take a look at our values exercise you will see that my top ten values are: Integrity, Compassion, Respect, Contribution, Honesty, Trust, Fairness, Loyalty, Sincerity, and Equality. I make no excuse when I say that these values are currently tempered by a little anger.
What happens over the next few months will affect us all for decades so let’s hope that Jo Swinson’s call to revoke article 50 gets the success that it deserves.