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ongoing web column by Brunella Longo

This column deals with some aspects of change management processes experienced almost in any industry impacted by the digital revolution: how to select, create, gather, manage, interpret, share data and information either because of internal and usually incremental scope - such learning, educational and re-engineering processes - or because of external forces, like mergers and acquisitions, restructuring goals, new regulations or disruptive technologies.

The title - I Changed My Mind Reviewing Everything - is a tribute to authors and scientists from different disciplinary fields that have illuminated my understanding of intentional change and decision making processes during the last thirty years, explaining how we think - or how we think about the way we think. The logo is a bit of a divertissement, from the latin divertere that means turn in separate ways.

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Three good reasons for the UK to stay in Europe

Open letter to Her Majesty the Queen on Brexit

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2016). Three good reasons for the UK to stay in Europe: Open letter to Her Majesty the Queen on Brexit. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Print)], 5.5 (May).

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2016). Three good reasons for the UK to stay in Europe: Open letter to Her Majesty the Queen on Brexit. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Online)], 5.5 (May).

London, 25 August 2016

Dear Madam

according to the web editions of 'The Independent' and 'The Evening Standard' of the 21st June 2016 and all the online and printed editions of 'The Times' and 'The Sun' of the 22nd June 2016, on the day before the EU referendum you asked your dinner companions: "Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe".

I think your private conversations should have not been reported in public, as they obviously created an unduly influence on the electorate.

I would have liked to but unfortunately I did not vote for the EU referendum because my British Citizenship application was, and it is still, under review (in spite of satisfying all the residential requirements, it seems that Civil Servants at the Home Office could not make the right calculations, perhaps a numeracy skills problem you might have heard about also through the investigations of the Public Accounts Committee). That is possibly why I was particularly attentive to the Brexit debate. The day before I had posted on Twitter my Best Wishes to all of us to remain in Europe - as we cannot afford "British only" cables in a global world, neither to join the Arab League! . Sometimes I have the ability to put in a wit the essence of forthcoming tons of literature and broadcasts.

It was the early afternoon of the 23rd when I heard of your question at the radio and I felt I should respond. I thought I should start saying you were still on the hook of your friend Margaret Tatcher’s position, epitomised with her famous triple “No, no, no” to Jacques Delors’ plans for Europe in the Autumn of 1990. And above all, it may look like you are not aware of such historical bewildering? At your age, I can understand it may happen. But what about your advisors? Shall I send in my cv?

Anyhow, I am very sorry I could not tweet and write anything that day as I like to think that in some respects you would have appreciated it. And my silence might have saddened you. In fact, I had been made homeless for the second time in eight years and my priority for the day, besides few working activities and an appointment at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, was to find a safe and dry place where to sleep that night (there were lot of hotels flooded as well in Central and South London) - and to send a nice message to my dog and her carer, a friend of friends.

You and many at your Courts and Civil Service Offices - starting with the Treasury Solicitor’s and the Royal Court of Justice - probably remember of me since 2011 or even earlier: the woman with the little dog that came in 2008-2009 from Milan with all her savings (plus the loans from her mother! what an Italian melodrama!) to start a digital business and buy a flat in NW3 5EX from a certain Mrs Suzanne Brennan and then ended up not just evicted (and even bankrupt instead, losing over £250,000 for the sake of her freedom of movement) but even robbed of her regulated stakeholder pension - and later on even of all her belongings and paperwork.

Yes. After that tragedy in 2012, due to the fact that the North London property was an unmarketable title, registered under the name of another person, I paid six months rent in advance to a letting agent and rented a little maisonette in west Norwood - Tulse Hill (South London), that turned out to be, surprise surprise, defective as well because missing a certificate of legal development: this time I was evicted - in November 2015 - without any grounds, from a certain improbable landlord Mr Garrick, who had been hunted since long because of disrespect of planning, environmental and living standard rules by the London Borough of Lambeth. They just waited for me to provide the evidence of all that so that they could proceed with an Enforcement Notice that had been issued in 2007.

Madam, breath and relax: do not worry. I am now safe. It is true that I am very distressed after all these troubles but last month I have eventually found and rented another little home from an "independent" agency. The local authority refused to accept any responsibility in the planning permissions disaster I was victimised with and even if they recognised me as eligible for social housing, in practical terms they do not have houses for quasi homeless single women consultants and authors, evicted without grounds from defective premises! Not even if I have helped the Council to confiscate the property for a value said (in "Lambeth Talk", November 2015, page 4) of over £400,000, the Courts seem to have any power or will to recognise my right to have a say on evictions without fault as the only way forward to enforce planning rules - or at least to have a penny in compensation. My claim for damage is stagnating in a Court officer's drawer.

They did not want me to go ahead negotiating with the Planning team and with Mr Garrick the possibility of a small regeneration project. But what seems to me really beyond any decency is that I do not have a lawyer. I have not had so far the possibility to retrieve all my chattels, furniture, working papers, clothes, sun glasses and dog passport among other essential things from the confiscated house - so that I still have to litigate the matter with Mr Garrick to have back my belongings. I am also a bit worried about my eyes since I often see black spots on my glasses. I think it may be because of all the stress of these last nine months and the first available appointment with an ophthalmologist is for October. But I do not want to bother or worry you any further: as I said, I am overall good and in good spirit. I am sure you know these land issues are ordinary painful matters for lot of people in your Country in a way that would be simply impossible in any other Continental Europe Country.

So, after a prolonged and forced delay, please accept these three following good reasons as my sincere and very interested reply to your question "Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe":

1) Europe is your home and you need an Institution to govern it

Europe it has always been the home of British Monarchy, although only recently it has decided to get more organised. Let’s say that in the last Century your housing provider has got better ways to manage a number of issues on which you yourself have had the opportunity to express your ideas and preferences - and scepticism by the way.

You understand that your home cannot exist in an institutional vacuum - or refusing to apply planning rules as my Mr Garrick did, just because you are happy to have friendly relationships with neighbours, or refusing to update your title data in the Land Registry as Mrs Brennan did just because you are friend with the Coroner!

There was a reason why Winston Churchill called for a kind of United States of Europe in 1946 and that is still very valid today if not even more important, since the world has become more globalised and interconnected.

You want your home governed by an institution, not by a group of friends playing games.

You want the relationship with your spouse and your children’s interests protected and regulated in a predictable and simple way, and recognised by others: that is why institutions like marriages, civil partnerships and the European Union exist.

That is, in the end, even the reason why I am sure you understand that even you, as a Constitutional Monarchy, exist - otherwise you could be simply (and perhaps more conveniently for the Treasury?!?) transformed in a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Don’t get caught in the mouse trap of the "informal governance" wizards like Boris Johnson and his successor Mayor of London: they try to dig trenches between the idea of "our friendly european neighbours" and the European Union as an Institution, between the daily trade negotiations and various collaborations that are always possible even between lords and smugglers on one side and the existence of more robust, just and transparent relationships regulated and fixated by international law.

The European Union is a young institution and it is still very imperfect. The way in which it is run can be surely improved: I have been personally disappointed since long, for instance, with the EU ways to manage funded projects, because of the extremely slowness, expensiveness and I believe unfair and not transparent ways they tend to favour big businesses, big universities, big consortia instead of small consultancies and micro businesses like mine.

But you do not leave to others the power to manage and regulate institutions that have an impact on your home without the right to have a say.

2) You do not want a referendum to abolish the British Monarchy

The UK has joined the EU upon an application made in 1961, not because of the result of a Referendum.

It is simply utopia and disinformation to imagine that the result of a Referendum can lead the Country to leave the EU, as this is not possible, not acceptable. The UK will continue to pay moneys in and to be compliant with EU laws until and long after if will have officially applied to leave. And for that there must be consensus in Parliament.

It has been a shortsighted and very populistic decision to think that one or two (or even three!) referendum - asking the british people to remain or to leave - can direct and dictate the policies of your Governments in respect of the EU relationships.

"Brexit means Brexit" is just media nonsense.

Joining the EU in 1961 was a complex process you yourself, dear Madam, possibly underestimated and preferred not to say anything about. That process originated other complex processes that have shaped and influenced any part of the British economy in the last sixty years.

To the best of my knowledge, you and your family have remained formally mostly silent on all these EU matters for decades, perhaps because you have always been very cautious in speaking out your mind about new businesses - you tend to be very tolerant and let the children play around before giving or denying Royal Assent to everything.

Occasionally, you and members of your family have lobbied and openly opposed some practical measures but most of the times you have considered EU processes not really part of your own businesses - but you have enjoyed the holidays, the cleaners and the aids for farmers though, haven't you?

It was a populistic manoeuvre to gain the Country consensus in 1975, upon participation in EU policies and processes without your explicit consent and engagement: in that first Referendum, the British people voted to "stay in", because of fear of losing competitiveness and businesses.

Brexit result this year, after a Referendum wanted by the most traditionalist and monarchic forces within the british society, has been the outcome of another populistic manoeuvre: this time, exploiting the fears about immigration.

I believe that complex institutional matters are not to be handled through referendums and not without your engagement: people do not know pretty much anything about the way in which Countries and Institutions are run.

This is possibly something that, indeed, you may wish people to debate for the future: not to have Referenda on matters of such institutional complexity.

3) You need the European big society for all your multicultural families and communities

British society and communities are under pressure because of the unexpected, uncontrolled and in my opinion often undocumented growth of population of migrants from outside the EU and particularly from African countries.

The British-born second and third generation of indian, pakistani, bangladeshi, chinese, afro-caribbean and other black ethnic groups have generated enormous pressure on the welfare system, the housing market and the NHS, with large number of children per families, youth and women chronic unemployment, low levels of literacy, numeracy and generally speaking very poor or non existent social mobility.

Can you reasonably think that the older Commonwealth can compensate and substitute the existence of British formal relationships with the European Union?

Where the new generations of britons will go to find new jobs, to create new families and expand businesses?

Freedom of movement is an imperfect mechanism that could be surely reviewed and improved, especially because it is exposed to dodgy, fraudulent and abusive when not criminal conducts as I have painfully experienced since I came here in 2008. But in a big European society, freedom of movement is the only realistic guarantee you can can offer to your multicultural and increasingly poorer society about their future wealth and well being.


I hope you received in the meantime other insightful and perhaps more useful replies to your question, in spite of the weirdness of its timing. It was a simple, powerful and very effective way to abandon populistic approaches and focus on the real issues.

I believe my three good reasons worth your consideration for the long term future of British - EU relationship and for the change we all need.

Yours Faithfully

Brunella Longo

P.S. 30/8/2016 Madam, I have received an awkward comment from the chair of my Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) I volunteered with about the fact that in this open letter I did not address you with the right salutation. Indeed, you know I would never address you in my personal capacity as "Her Majesty" without being a British Citizen because this would be false pretence in my circumstances, potentially allowing wrong inferences and incorrect judgements. In fact, it is true that I paid the £900 to file my application for citizenship in 2013 and I can confirm that as an Italian Citizen permanently living in the UK I would like to be included among the subjects you reign upon for a number of reasons, including working with the UK Government to strengthen data management and other infrastructure assets, for instance. But, so far, I have not been granted such privilege of a double citizenship and therefore I do not have any right to call you "Her Majesty" in public. I will recommend instead to my SNT, and the whole of the Metropolitan Police in my London Borough, to review the practices they have in place in order to protect Her Majesty's land, including defective premises, from cowboy builders' takeover. Best wishes.