OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — "The Trump presidency and the Brexit vote and everything that is playing across Europe at the moment is a cultural phenomenon as much as it is an economic one," said activist, reformed jihadist and think-tank founder Maajid Nawaz last December, on a panel about populism and protectionism at VOICES, BoF's new annual gathering for big thinkers.
Nawaz was joined by Alexander Betts, Leopold Muller Professor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford University, and Richard Davies, an economist at the Council of Economic Advisers at HM Treasury in the UK. The panel was moderated by BoF chief commercial officer, Nick Blunden.
In a conversation that explored uncertainty, leadership, fear, Brexit and Trump, Davies made clear that the implications for business would differ widely by sector and size of enterprise.
“A lot of companies making clothes source things from Italy," he said. "If you want to build a supply chain that involves the Far East, you’re typically a larger company. What we might find is that the hit is going to be greater to smaller companies that have less flexibility to flip their production to other parts of the world.”
The panel also questioned how to return to the values of democratic liberalism that many in the fashion industry and wider business community support. Both Nawaz and Betts agreed that liberal politicians need a more compelling narrative to communicate their vision for the future.