No man is an island – 10 great English expressions and lessons on Brexit

We don’t normally touch on politics here on the Target Training blog but Brexit represents such a monumental change not just for British people, but for Europe as a whole. It’s also not just about politics. It’s about people and freedom. The freedom to live and move in any of Europe’s wonderful corners. The freedom to mix easily with people from other cultures, learn new languages, and benefit from the wide variety of absolutely everything. Like half my country men, I am bitterly disappointed. I’ve been through a range of emotions since Friday 24th June: sadness, disbelief and fury to name just a few. This is like a grieving process, and I am slowly coming into the acceptance phase.

Here are 10 great English expressions which summarize some of the lessons from Brexit.

Lesson Number 1: It’s OK to throw your toys out of the pram (for a bit)

I can stamp my feet and scream all I like, but it’s not going to change the situation. However, throwing a bit of a tantrum helps to let some out of the emotion out before moving on to the next stages of the process.

Lesson Number 2: Just suck it up

I’ve had disappointments before. Who hasn’t? And basically, although for me BREXIT is huge, those of us in the Remain camp have just got to “suck it up”. I hate that phrase, but yes, I agree it’s time to just accept it. And work out the best possible solution for Britain, Europe, and its people.

Lesson Number 3: Don’t rest on your laurels

What does that mean? Well, this English phrase means you need to work hard to reach your goals. The turnout was “only” 73%. Yes, for a normal election, this is very high. But for an event with the potential to change the course of history, it wasn’t really good enough. Young people particularly are complaining that the older generations voted for something they didn’t want. Yet not everybody made the effort to go out and vote themselves.

Lesson Number 4: Pride comes before a fall

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. The referendum was promised as part of the last election campaign. At that stage, nobody considered it a risk so there was no harm in throwing it into the packet. Nobody actually thought Brexit would really happen. But it did.

Lesson Number 5: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

The Remain campaign were sure they were going to win. The Leave campaign were pretty sure they weren’t going to win. Both camps counted their chickens before they hatched. As a result, all leaders, or potential leaders, have stepped down and Britain finds itself politically divided and leaderless.

Lesson Number 6: The grass is always greener on the other side

In spite of nearly every business leader and financial expert saying it would be a bad idea to leave the EU, people realized it was their chance to vote for how they really felt. Nobody can predict the future, so why not see how green the grass is on the other side? If you think something is bad, then surely a change can only be a good thing?

Lesson Number 7: You can’t have your cake (and eat it too)

Stories are beginning to emerge in which Leave voters didn’t understand that they will no longer get EU subsidies they are used to receiving. They’re realizing they can’t enjoy the best of both worlds and will need to accept that cuts will now take place.

Lesson Number 8: When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Now it’s time for tough leaders with drive to fight for a deal that will work in everyone’s interest. This is clearly not going to be easy. The British leaders (once appointed) will be negotiating knowing that half their population don’t want this situation, and the European leaders will want to find a solution that discourages other countries from wanting to leave.

Lesson Number 9: All good things must come to an end…..

This seems like a good phrase to finish off with. It’s been great, thank you Europe. (I hope you’ll let me stay – and keep my British passport)

Lesson Number 10: ….but you never know what’s just around the corner.

Who knows? The future may even hold something brighter…


This poem is by John Donne, one of Britain’s most renowned poets. It was written in 1624. He could have written this poem for Britain now.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.


2 replies
  1. George
    George says:

    Let’s not forget Burns:

    “The best-laid plans of mice and men
    Often go awry,
    And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
    For promised joy!”

Comments are closed.