HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BREXIT
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BREXIT
Nathan Alemany, Head of Marketing, International Business Festival
On the morning of June 24, 2016, Great Britain’s business world was plunged into uncertainty. The people had spoken and Brexit Britain became a reality, sending shockwaves across global markets.
The pound fell sharply, the Prime Minister resigned, protests sprung up left, right and centre and political commentators up and down the country attempted to tell a suddenly somber Britain what Brexit really meant.
The post-referendum UK was wading in gloomy predictions and, on the face of things, Brexit looked like it could be an unimaginable catastrophe for our nation. (It sounds like a stodgy, high-fibre cereal and sometimes looks even less appealing.)
But six months later, upon reflection, new insights into Brexit are available and things may not be as pessimistic, as they once were. It’s easy to join a chorus of never-ending negativity. But if ‘remain’ is no longer an option, International Festival for Business prefers to at least try and remain positive.
So we’ve put our heads together to uncover seven reasons why quitting the European Union could be good for your business. Who doesn’t need cheering up a little in January?
1) PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTS BREXIT.
Now if there’s one thing more divisive than Brexit, It’s ‘The Donald’. But today, the future President of the United States has reaffirmed his support for Great Britain leaving the European Union, pledging to move ‘very quickly’ in securing a trade agreement with the UK. President-Elect Trump said:
“I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides”
If you were choosing an influential person to back a big change in the way Britain does business with the rest of the planet, you could do much worse than the new Leader of the Free World.
2) FALL OF THE POUND – THE FLIPSIDE
The President-Elect’s comments came after the pound fell 1.5% against the US dollar, its lowest level since October. Now we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that bad for our economy? Well, yes. A weaker pound means that UK businesses have to pay more for goods they buy in foreign currencies, making imports more expensive. But there’s a positive flip-side too.
A weaker pound means that UK businesses who export become much more attractive to overseas buyers. (Another great reason to start exporting). The UK also becomes a more lucrative proposition to overseas investors and benefits from a surge in foreign tourists, substantially boosting our nation’s visitor economy.
But in the world of global economics things can turn quickly. The pound falls, the pound rises and the pound is predicted to fall again (And that’s just in the last three days). But the pound rose yesterday for a very clear reason and it was all because of a long-awaited speech by our PM.
3) GOALS FOR A GLOBAL BRITAIN
During yesterday's speech, British Prime Minister, Theresa May made it clear that the UK would leave the single market.
However, she added the UK will pursue a bold, ambitious free trade deal with European Union, but will not contribute to EU budget, stating:
"I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements but I also want tariff-free trade with Europe, and cross-border trade there to be as frictionless as possible.
"That means I do not want Britain to be part of the common commercial policy and I do not want us to be bound by the common external tariff.”
And it looks like she’s prepared to take a firm stance, adding:
"And if we were excluded from accessing the single market, we would be free to change the basis of Britain's economic model. But for the EU, it would mean new barriers to trade with one of the biggest economies in the world."
This may sound like having your cake and eating it, but clearly setting out what the UK's expects from negotiations has got to be better than weeks and months of cautious or stealthy moves. Better for business, better for Europe and (hopefully) better for Britain.
4) YOU CAN’T MAKE AN OMELETTE...
The daily dose of Brexit that we’ve been getting is enough to make any business feel despondent. There’s no denying that Whitehall failed to prepare for the (albeit surprise) 'leave' majority vote. Since then there have been more questions than answers. Brexit was never going to be easy, but all the terrible prophets of doom have not yet come to pass. There’s been no emergency Brexit budget, no tax rise, and no heightened austerity measures. All this we can and should be thankful for.
5) A BETTER DEAL FOR BUSINESS IS STILL ON THE CARDS
You might not know this, but non-EU countries like Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland have their own trade agreements with the rest of Europe and we’re happy to say, these countries are doing fine.
Britain too will be able to re-negotiate trading terms and this still has the potential to save billions in annual EU contributions. (Admittedly not as much as the ‘leave’ campaign assured us, but still a substantial amount that we could still spend on what the British people want). Or, to put it another way, the UK now has room to create new trade deals without seeking the consensus of 28 other (often quarrelling) countries.
6) THE EUROPEAN UNION ISN’T WHAT IT ONCE WAS (AND BRITAIN COULD BE LEADING THE WAY)
Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union didn’t do it any favours. It seriously shook the politico-economic union’s stability and potentially paved the way for other countries to follow suit. France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Hungary could now also hold their own referendums on membership of the superstate, potentially weakening the European Union further. Britain’s status as an ‘early leaver’ could prove beneficial in the long-run.
7) YOU DON’T NEED TO BE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION TO BE PROSPEROUS
Let’s get one thing clear. The best way to create lots of jobs and business opportunities is to have a competitive economy and having access to a huge, single market is pointless if no one wants to buy what you’re selling.
Greece is a fully-fledged EU member but has suffered significantly due to a lack of competitiveness. Britain now has the potential to build a more competitive economy outside the EU, we mustn't forget that because this potential is a really good thing.
Truth be told, Brexit was never going to be a breeze. Nor was it ever going to be the havoc-wrecking tornado, that some people said it would. Like a lot of complex political and economic issues, there’s no clear stance to be taken.
Brexit will definitely have ramifications but it also has huge potential. Great Britain can and should be able to lead itself in all matters. Brexit could give Britain more choice, more freedom, more flexibility and a better way to trade with the rest of the world, in the long run. It’s a gamble, but so is business, so let’s stay positive