December 14, 2019

Former British Prime Minister Adviser Talks Brexit

Veronica Andreades '20 - Managing Editor

When the date was set for “Brexit, Britain, and Halloween” in Gregory Auditorium, Britain was primed to leave the European Union on Oct. 31. But despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to make it so, Phil Budden came to speak to Gordon College with Brexit still on the horizon. 

Former adviser to the British prime minister on European and institutional strategy Phil Budden spoke to a packed Jenks auditorium on Oct. 29. But as Brexit is an ever-shifting affair, upon arrival on Gordon’s campus, Budden had to change his slides to reflect recent developments in his home country. “So if anybody looks at their device, you may learn something in the next 40 min that I’m talking at you,” said Budden. “So please feel free to update all of us when we get to the end of my remarks.” 

In addition to formerly advising the prime minister at No. 10 Downing Street, Budden was the British consul general for New England, the first secretary at the British embassy in Washington, D.C., and currently holds the status of senior lecturer at MIT’s Management School in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management. His credentials may give him authority to speak on Brexit, but Budden was quick to inform the audience of his bias. 

“In the interest of full disclosure, I did my doctorate on why Britain being in the EU was such a good thing…I then did 10 years of my life as a British diplomat working on EU affairs,” Budden said. “I did not vote for Brexit. I advised my governments that Brexit was not in the British national interest.”

Photo by Sophia Rowe

Budden went on to explain how Brexit came about, why it is so complicated, and what the current predicament is. With a difference of 4% between those for and those against, and an ever rocking political landscape, Brexit slips with the tide. At this point, Budden explained, the ambiguity of the future is hurting more people than a final decision whichever way it goes: “I think the sooner we can move on from Brexit to the rest of the world, the better.” 

The talk was put on by the department of political science, philosophy, and history, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Princemere, Gordon’s academic journal. 

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