It seems that everything at the moment is about Brexit. Hard Brexit. Soft Brexit. No deal Brexit. Asking the people whether they want Brexit first ‘Brexit’. It all makes a mockery of the initial “Brexit is Brexit” comments from Theresa May at the start of the process. Even the word itself and continuing discussion of it, whatever your view, can become irritating and lead to entrenched beliefs in either ‘getting it done’, ‘getting it sorted’ or ‘stopping it’.
So, what happens when these views lead to difficulties in the workplace? After all, the traditional dinner party rules of ‘don’t discuss religion or politics’ seem to apply more and more to workplaces. But Brexit seems to have slipped past this implied rule, particularly when the (potential) event itself could lead to job instability and restructure of certain workplaces.
Let’s take a hypothetical example of how an employer should manage two warring colleagues with opposite views on Brexit who, unfortunately, let it impede work. Our hypothetical employer, Brilliant Britain Limited, supplies union jack mugs around the world. In order to do so, they rely heavily on the Production Manager, Tessa, and the Delivery Manager, Jez. Naturally, the company needs both to do their jobs well – after all, you need goods to deliver and can’t sell goods without delivering them; therefore, the aims of their jobs go hand-in-hand. From week to week, Tess and Jez need to constantly meet to update each other on production and delivery needs, so either can be amended to suit the other.
However, during these frequent private meetings, Jez and Tessa have clashed repeatedly on the idea of Brexit. To use the rather awful slogans, Tessa is a ‘Brexiteer’ who wants to leave the EU and Jez is a ‘Remainer’ who thinks the UK would be in a worse state outside the EU under the current Withdrawal Agreement.
In recent weeks, as the political situation has worsened and Parliamentary stalemate has become entrenched, Jez has become an advocate of the People’s Vote (i.e. having a second referendum). This was the final straw for Tessa who firmly believes that the result of the first referendum should be upheld and remains binding. The two have effectively fell out, refuse to meet face-to-face and now communicate only by way of tetchy, aggressive emails.