Brexit is Spear and Shield

Jas Sansi tries to make sense of Brexit as we enter the final months of negotiations. 


China has an expression for contradiction, its ‘Mao Dun’, literally ‘Spear and Shield.’ Its said to have come from a trader who boasted his shields could not be penetrated by any spear, and his spears were so sharp, nothing could stop them. 

He was lost for words when asked what would happen if somebody threw one of his spears at one of his shields! Hence the expression for contradiction, Spear and Shield; Mao Dun. 

Brexit isn’t working. 

We wake up every day with a new Brexit headline and social media runs with it, Remainers and Leavers adopting opposite sides of the argument.

This has been the narrative of our country for the past two years. London voted to Remain but is in charge of delivering a Leave vote it doesn’t believe in; Mao Dun.

Those who wanted us to leave the EU should have devised a plan first, designed a strategy to roll out the plan, and executed the plan with Brexit being the outcome. 

Brexit would then have been a precise point in our country’s history. The goal posts would invariably have moved, but we would know where they have moved to.

History will criticise us for making a decision and then trying to reverse engineer a position to ensure the decision is viable. We stabbed in the dark without even taking the time to grab a knife.

..the Chequers proposal has managed to unite both Leave and Remain

Brexit is a destination without a map, an objective without a strategy, an ambition without drive. 

Leave campaign over spent, there is evidence of overseas collusion, Cambridge Analytica manipulated personal information to push the Leave agenda, Brexit Buses promised £350 Million, bill boards warned of Turkey joining the EU. The list goes on and on and on. 

The Remain campaign didn’t exactly paint itself in glory; Project Fear, Punishment Budgets and mostly led by a Government that slashed public spending and made Austerity their mantra. 

There are no good and bad sides in any of this.

Right now, we have a Prime Minister committed to the Chequers proposal, it has managed to unite both Leave and Remain sides here in the UK and the EU negotiators; neither side wants it.

Remain are pushing for a People’s Vote and Leave have consigned themselves to a Brexit with No Deal. Referendum has unleashed further Referendum, No plan has morphed into No Deal.

Brexit is Mao Dun. The contradiction is wanting all the benefits of EU membership but without the membership.

The only outcome I can see once the Chequers Proposal is voted out by the Commons is extending Article 50 and calling another General Election. There is no making sense of Brexit.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham

@jassansi 07930 837 505




Back in the Ring

Countdown to Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham begins. If today’s wrestling match between Dancing Queen and Bicycle Man is anything to go by, expect fireworks. Jas Sansi is missing Summer already.


Today is the first Monday in September. Balmy Summer evenings and holiday jaunts are a distant memory. All energies are focused on sharpening pencils as we all, metaphorically, return to school. 

No one has sharpened their pencil more than the Big Daddy of Brexit, Boris Johnson who didn’t even have the decency to wait for the school bell before launching a scathing attack on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. 

Backbencher Boris suggested “the scandal is not we have failed, but that we have not even tried.” There was me sitting behind Bojo in form 10B muttering the real scandal is promising £350 Million a week to the NHS etc etc…

Headmaster May waited for playtime before replying ‘this is a time for real leadership…’ and everyone gathered round to watch the fight, which as we all know, no longer happens in the playground but on twitter. 

Cough sweets are being stock piled…

Is this a leadership challenge? Yes. Is there an alternative Brexit strategy? No. Is there light at the end of the Brexit Tunnel? Yes. Is it a High Speed Train? Probably. 

The circus is coming to town. In twenty eight days, Birmingham hosts the 2018 Conservative Party Conference. If seven days is a long time in politics, imagine what can happen in four weeks. 

There’s no way the Tories will open conference without a leader so Theresa May will be on stage at the ICC dancing to the tune of the Chequers Proposal. Cough sweets are being stock piled ahead of the PM’s address.

Party Conference will be a logistical and security challenge. Birmingham is currently a building site, as a city, it feels like we have more cranes than Dubai and more traffic than Bangkok. 

I’ll be on site for the duration of the Conference. We need a finalised proposal by the end of it which the European Parliament can ratify in time for 29th March 2019 when we officially leave the EU. 

Will we have one? Don’t hold your breath.

Conservative Party Conference, ICC Birmingham 30 September to 3rd October 2018

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham

@jassansi 07930 837 505



Discovering Birmingham

Jas Sansi was asked to say a few words at the launch of ‘Discovering Birmingham’ at Foyles Birmingham along with Midlands Mayor Andy Street and the book’s author Jonathan Berg. Here’s what he said. 


Good afternoon and welcome to the launch of Discovering Birmingham, here in Foyles Bookshop. 

My name is Jas Sansi. I’m a freelance photographer based here in Brum. I’m also proud to be a trustee for LoveBrum which is a charity that shouts about Birmingham to anyone who will listen and even to those who don’t listen but find themselves compelled to listen.  

In Discovering Birmingham, whether like me, you were born here, or emigrated here or find yourselves transported here as a refugee and wondering where on earth am I? You have to ask the question ‘What is Birmingham? What is our story, for it is also now your story.

Liverpool has the Beatles, Manchester the football, and you may scoff and say they didn’t have it on Saturday in the FA Cup Final losing to Chelsea, but I would add they WERE there unlike my team West Brom and Andy’s team Aston Villa.

So Liverpool and Manchester have a clear narrative. London is London and hosting the FA Cup Final on Saturday wasn’t enough for the capital, they threw in spectacular wedding for good measure. But what’s our narrative? 

I would suggest Birmingham is on a journey. And the best part of any journey is twofold; at the beginning and just before arrival. 

At the beginning we set off, energised and expectant. With hope and dreams. And near the end when we’re almost there, the anticipation of arrival, of seeing those we love and the places we love. 

As a city and as a city region including Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull we’re at that point of anticipation. We’re almost there.

We can see land, its the new headquarters of HSBC in 2018, its Coventry City of Culture in 2021, its the Commonwealth Games in 2022, and its HS2 in 2026 And on that exhilarating horizon we may even see Channel 4. 

Either way, that’s where we are. Its incredibly exciting. 

In our journey, Hope is being replaced with Anticipation. 

Our horizon has been set out by the region’s leaders, businesses, believers, activists, artists and dreamers. 

We’re on a journey, Andy Street who recently used a lovely phrase ‘we have learned to win’ is steering that journey and I have every confidence we’ll be docking soon. 

A book such as Discovering Birmingham reminds us how far we have come. It’s pages are the backdrop to all of the stories, the dreams and the aspirations that exist in the hearts of our citizens. 

Its reminds us why we LoveBrum, and that is reason alone for having a copy in your homes and work places. 

Thank you for attending today’s launch here in Foyles. Its important to support local bookshops. 

Thank you to Jonathan for the invitation to say a few words and I wish you every success for this wonderful addition to Birmingham’s story. 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and a columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

Greatest Birmingham Chambers Awards

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce flood the ICC with the group’s biggest Awards Dinner ever. Jas Sansi set sail for a celebration of the best in Business. 


CEO Paul Faulkner welcomed over 1300 guests at last night’s Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Awards Dinner. He shared a little insight with the hall; it was the second ever largest awards dinner in Birmingham, overshadowed only by Slimmers World. 


The Slimmers World event can only get bigger by shedding pounds, and the Chambers can only grow by gaining pounds. So there’s a challenge for regional business next year; make more pounds, book more seats and lets be the biggest.  We’ll have better desserts as well. 


I spotted Laura Shoaf, MD of Transport for West Midlands. Standing here with the recently appointed High Sheriff of the West Midlands, Chris Loughran. 


Chamber President Paul Kehoe CBE wore the full office medal for this picture but opted for the smaller blue one when delivering his speech. Paul who recently stepped down as CEO of Birmingham Airport told me his hobby of flying is an expensive one, adding the best two days of owning a plane is the day you buy it and the day you sell it! 


The evening was wonderfully hosted by Stephen Mangan, an actor who amongst other roles provided the voice for Postman Pat; The Movie. I mention that because my son was a huge fan of Postman Pat and I have fond memories of watching it together. He’s now into Grime, which is not something we’ve ever shared any time listening to. 


Great to see Deborah Cadman OBE in attendance. Here with Stephen. Deborah is CEO of the West Midlands Combined Authority and one of the most powerful women in the region. 


There were many inspirational women in the room. The President’s Award went to The Ice Maidens, a British Army unit of six female soldiers who crossed the Antarctic via the South Pole, by foot.


I met the Ice Maidens before their mission and learned they were given a weight gain diet to prepare for Arctic conditions; White Wine, Chocolate and Ice Cream. All of these were available at the Chamber Awards Dinner though I suspect no one walked home via the South Pole.


Bobby Singh from Love Your Postcode was at the dinner as guest of Elonex Outdoor Media. The only drivers who haven’t have seen the ‘You Deserve Better’ digital screen adverts featuring Bobby are the getaway drivers in HMP Winson Green. A huge campaign and a business shaking up the estate agency market. Great to see him there.


Lots of familiar faces across all divisions of the Chamber which recently expanded to create the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce. This is an exciting venture in the build up to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022. 


Katie Hale from Plott Creative attended her first Chamber Awards as President of Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce. Looking forward to hearing great things about Sutton Chamber under Katie’s leadership. 


The Awards dinner is more than business, there is representation from all fields. Here’s Professor Julian Beer from BCU and MP Liam Byrne representing politics. Brexit was mentioned in Paul Faulkner’s welcome speech with the Chamber recently publishing a Brexit Toolkit. And no, it doesn’t contain a hammer to smash over Nigel Farage’s head. 


Here’s Paul Reeves and Mandeep Rajput from @HelloB, a brand new digital banking service that helps you manage your money. Mandeep purchased this signed Messi shirt in aid of Acorns Hospice, the designated charity for the evening. 


Aston Performing Arts smashed it with a tribute to Motown which got the front row VIP tables to their feet. Tru Powell may be back on this very stage next month as a Marketing & Communications winner at BYPY. Good luck Tru. 


And how about the awards themselves? Well in true Noah’s Ark style, the winners came in two by two. Millennium Point headed up by LoveBrum Trustee Judith Armstrong won two awards, Addfield won two and Curium won two included Business of the Year. 


Let’s take a look at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 2018 winners:  

0321 Excellence in Training & Education - Millennium Point

Excellence in Training & Education – Millennium Point

0325 Excellence in International Business - Addfield Environmental Systems

Excellence in International Business – Addfield Environmental Systems

0330 Excellence in Contributing to the Community - Acorns Childrens Hospice

Excellence in Contributing to the Community – Acorns Childrens Hospice

0334 Excellence in Customer Service - CV Library

Excellence in Customer Service – CV Library

0346 Excellence in Hospitality Award - Millennium Point

Excellence in Hospitality Award – Millennium Point

0352 Excellence in Technology & Innovation - Crown Highways

Excellence in Technology & Innovation – Crown Highways

0362 Excellence in People Development - Curium Solutions

Excellence in People Development – Curium Solutions

0367 Excellence in Manufacturing - Addfield Environmental Systems

Excellence in Manufacturing – Addfield Environmental Systems

0385 Excellence in Sales & Marketing - Selfridges

Excellence in Sales & Marketing – Selfridges

0404 Greater Birmingham Business of the Year - Curium Solutions

Greater Birmingham Business of the Year – Curium Solutions

Congratulations to all the winners and well done to all the finalists. Huge thanks to the sponsors without whom, events like these simply would not be possible. 


Looking forward to seeing everyone back next year. Consider putting your business up for nomination for next year’s awards. The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce event is a powerful vehicle to showcase all that is great about your company. 


Congratulations to Acorns Children’s Hospice on winning the Excellence in Contributing to the Community Award. A great way to celebrate their 30th anniversary. A huge thank you to everyone who helped raise £5100 to support the incredibly important work Acorns provide. 


Business is a bridge to reach others in a world where walls and boundaries get too many headlines. Business creates employment, opportunities and a way to channel talent for the benefit of all. Business generates the tax receipts that keep the country’s heart beating.


Business is a human instinct. Our island nation was forged on the ability to reach out and trade with our neighbours, near and far. Our climate here in the UK means we can’t grow everything but our education system, funded by trade, empowers us to grow the people who can do everything. And that’s something worth celebrating. See you in 2019. 


The full set of images from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Annual Dinner & Awards 2018:

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce:

Information about Acorns Children’s Hospice:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505



The Future Looks Bright


Birmingham Young Professional of the Year announce the finalists for #BYPY18.

LoveBrum trustee Jas Sansi scans the list of nominations and highlights just a few of those to look out for on the night. 

Jas copy.jpg


Birmingham Young Professional of the Year lights up the city on Thursday 24th May 2018. Expect couture, bling and heels but don’t expect anything less than the city’s finest emerging talent.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell have secured two of the three places in the Legal Category. Chrissi Wolfe and Laura Daly are going to make it difficult to bet against Irwin Mitchell making this category anything but their own.

The Marketing and Communications category is represented by three young professionals who have made a huge impact on the city. Tru Powell, Beth Sadler and Sunny Gill are no strangers to Birmingham’s business network. A tweet shared by these three would hit every significant social media account in Brum.

Gurpreet Bassi from SDL Bigwood has been nominated in Property and Construction. Fresh from success at Signature Awards in February, Gurpreet is one to watch. He has been mentored by Property Guru, Paul Bassi and that’s an education money cannot buy. Good luck Gurpreet.  

For Finance, RBS’s Andy Lee demonstrates if at first you don’t succeed try and try again. BYPY should note Andy will not be taking no for an answer until his name is engraved in BYPY history. Andy’s team recently hosted a visit from CEO, Ross McEwan who addressed a packed Hotel du Vin conference room discussing how the banking group can best serve a diverse city like Birmingham. 

He’s up against some serious competition in Zoe Brown from PwC Midlands. PwC are one of the big four accounting practices and the one, British Prime Ministers are unable to ignore. The Cornwall Street office have hosted both Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Theresa May in recent years. Zoe Brown is another one to look out for on the 24th.

Best of luck to all finalists on the night. The overall winner of BYPY 2018 receives a £20,000 MBA Scholarship at Aston University Business School. This is an extraordinary legacy prize for one amazing winner. Can I get a woo woo? 

On behalf of the Trustees, Ambassadors, Members and Partners, may I convey a huge thank you to BYPY for supporting LoveBrum as the designated charity for the evening. LoveBrum is the charity for a better Birmingham casting a spotlight on projects across the city. LoveBrum bring these to the attention of members who have the opportunity to steer funding by a process of voting.

BYPY and their parent organisation BPS (Birmingham Professional Services) have the benefit of being under the leadership of Sophie Carlile and Victoria Ball. The BYPY Judging Panel was chaired by West Midlands Combined Authority CEO Deborah Cadman OBE. With this trio of leading ladies, BYPY 2018 will be the best one yet.

The future looks bright, the future looks BYPY. 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505




The Ivy Birmingham Launch

Fabulous launch on Tuesday night to ignite the socials for The Ivy Birmingham. Jas Sansi revisits some of the snaps taken at last Tuesday’s unveiling. 



The room was cleared ahead of 250 guests arriving for the VIP and Media Reception.

066 Mitch Rushton, Naomi Kent, Megan Jones and Lauren Crace

I only photographed the second VIP launch. The events were co-ordinated by ReWired PR who packed the restaurant out on both nights. 

291 Aktar Islam, Mike Parker, Phil Upton and Lorraine Smith


Great to see so many familiar faces enjoying the open bar including The Ivy’s signature beer, champagne and canapés.

109 Hannah Moran, Rachel Wallbridge and Stuart Turner

The Ivy Birmingham had 8000 bookings before they even opened last Wednesday.

128 Victoria Ball and Ria Blagburn

The restaurant is in the building previously occupied by Louis Vuitton and Austin Reed. 

135 Matt Roden and Mike Colledge

There are three floors in total. A private dining room, The Archer Room is on the top floor. This will be available to book from May 2018. 

177 Satpal and Barry Sherwin

The Archer Room is  named after the architect, Thomas Archer who designed Birmingham Cathedral which can be seen from The Ivy. 


The Ivy is next door to Fumo and will be getting a new neighbour later this year. ITV This Morning’s Gino D’Acampo.

340 Adrian Hindmarsh, Jessamy Ashton and Gary Newbon

The restaurant has created 150 jobs and demonstrated a huge injection of confidence in Birmingham. 

308 Tracy Mills, Liz Burton, Katie McPhilimey and Rai Singh

Having seen the menu, I’m confident they will do very well here in Brum. I’m looking forward to returning in May for a birthday dinner. 

362 ReWired PR Team

Huge thanks to the ReWired PR team for the assignment, the Jewellery Quarter based Agency is no stranger to welcoming the big guns to Birmingham. A great team to work with. Details can be found at 


See you at The Ivy. 

Full set of images from the launch:

My blog on why Birmingham is attracting so much attention from companies like The Ivy:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505


The Ivy Extends to Birmingham

The Ivy unveils a new branch in Birmingham. Jas Sansi powers up his Nikon and charges over to the most anticipated opening of 2018.

2 The Ivy.JPG 
Unless you frequently walk across the city centre, you may have failed to notice just how hilly Birmingham is. We’re the fourth highest city above sea level, canal boat users negotiate twenty locks to enter Gas Street Basin, the heart of the Midlands Canal Network.
Canal 2
City Bikes zipping around the flat streets of the capital may experience a more challenging terain here in Brum. Little surprise Boris bikes in London have three gears, whilst we are to have seven. That said, I am looking forward to them.
Cornwall St 1.jpg

The highest point in the city is home to Birmingham Cathedral. It’s befitting for this magnificent Anglican gem to stand in the heart of the city at the greatest elevation. The Cathedral celebrated it’s 300th anniversary in 2015 with a stunning refurbishment. If you’ve never been, do pop in. 

2 Birmingham Cathedral.JPG

To enjoy the exterior, stroll across the Cathedral grounds, affectionately known as Pigeon Park. Sit on one of many benches provided and enjoy the  stained glass windows by Birmingham born Edward Burne-Jones. Alternatively you can request a window table at The Ivy.


The Ivy launched this week in Temple Row bringing the Art Deco elegance of this London establishment 119 miles up the motorway. 


To The Ivy, I would like to convey a very warm welcome to Birmingham. We’re the youngest city in Europe with 40% of our citizens under the age of 25.


The Ivy may have taken 101 years to arrive but they find themselves in good company, there’s never been a better time to be in Brum.

11 Bham Weekender.JPG

…a finely tuned orchestra of colour

HSBC return to their historic home in May 2018 moving their UK headquarters from London Canary Wharf to Birmingham Westside. 


We’re proud of our neighbours, Coventry for winning City of Culture 2021. Coventry will unveil a programme of events in the build up to the Commonwealth Games hosted by Birmingham in 2022.

Commonwealth Games.jpg


The four years after 2022 see unprecedented development around an integrated and enhanced transport system; an expanded Birmingham Airport, more Metro, cycle lanes and quite possibly driverless cars. 


The forest of cranes across the city’s skyline will give way to a new version of Birmingham. And then we have 2026.

0 Snowhill

In 2026, London is pulled closer to Birmingham with the arrival of HS2. Londoners who can’t get a table at The Ivy in WC2 can make the 45 minute journey to the group’s Temple Row restaurant. Snooze meals off with the return journey or better still, stay overnight and further enjoy all the city has to offer. 


We’re a city of learning. Along with the biggest public library in Europe, Birmingham can boast more Universities than Florence and more trees than Paris, under which 65,000 students can aspire to become the next Isaac Newton.

Library of Birmingham.JPG

The Ivy Birmingham is a finely tuned orchestra of colour. The fabrics, materials and paints test my Nikon’s colour handling ability. Its a challenge the restaurant has posed and the camera company accepted for over a century. Both The Ivy and Nikon began their incredible journeys in 1917. 

St Patricks Parade 2014 2.JPG

The results are here for all to see, and hopefully enjoy. See you at The Ivy.

The full set of images from the VIP launch of The Ivy Birmingham:
 The Ivy Birmingham


67-71 Temple Row, Birmingham B2 5LS

0121 725 2110

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today.
@jassansi 07930 837 505