The Brexit campaigns officially started last Friday (15 April 2016) and the UK electorate is already being subjected to all sorts of political wrangling, tugging of emotions and dare I say it, even a touch of scaremongering. If we’re lucky we might get some debate going in the next two months too.
I’m getting asked by clients with increasing regularity what the impact would be of the UK leaving the EU. The reality is that this is a complex question and that “facts” into what would happen if we leave, seem very hard to come by.
Sure, by leaving we’ll save some money on subscription fees and be able to make our own trade deals with other countries. Yet I can’t help but think that this is a retrograde step for businesses in the UK and the many companies that invest into the UK from other countries. Not to mention how long those trade deals might take to agree.
Britain could follow the lead set by Norway, which has access to the single market but is not bound by EU laws on areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs. But doesn’t the UK’s agriculture benefit massively by EU grants and subsidies? Wouldn’t the UK still remain bound by virtually all EU regulations, including the working-time directive and almost everything decided by those members still on the Brussels invite list in future? Perhaps even worse, the UK would no longer have any influence on what those regulations said.
The global economy is still fragile. The global outlook remains mixed with a gradual pick-up in the US and the Eurozone, but a slowdown in China, continued recessions in Russia and Brazil, and increased volatility in financial markets.
UK businesses have had their fair share of additional uncertainty in the last 18 months with a referendum vote for Scottish independence in 2014, a general election in 2015 and now an EU referendum in 2016. Whilst many uncertainty factors cannot be foreseen, it is fair to say that UK businesses value confidence and certainty over most other indicators.
I hope there is a strong turnout from the UK electorate on 23 June. I also hope that all that vote, whatever their political persuasion, have the future of our country and future generations at the heart of their decision.
If you have any questions or need advice on any international matters please contact Andy Bewick