Bored of Brexit - Are We There Yet?

Date: 15/10/2018
Author: Chris Fletcher
Company: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

I’m quite sure that I’m not alone in feeling a little bit exhausted and fatigued with Brexit.

Speaking with members, friends and family, more and more people are rolling their eyes when you mention it to them or are just left shaking their head, wondering what on earth has or hasn’t been going on over the past two years to leave us in the current position.

Having had the whole issue turn into some form of political football with politicians from all parties (and all countries) arguing between themselves and others, with seemingly little concern for the reality of what happens next, you do get a sense that there is an increasing gap between the political and technical machinery of Brexit and the real world the rest of us inhabit.

And this is dangerous, especially as we move into a crucial period in the process. We are now inside the final six months before Brexit day on 29th March next year and this week sees the final negotiations ahead of the all-important EU Council meeting on 17th October, at which a form of a deal will be agreed and further meetings will ratify it from November onwards. 

Or at least that’s the plan.

Whatever happens, now is definitely not the time to disengage or shrug your shoulders. This is crunch time.

This is why we are refreshing our Brexit campaign activity and encouraging you to take a bit of time to catch up with what’s been going on and what lies ahead in the most honest way that we possibly can - and keeping the politics out.

British Chambers of Commerce have produced two great pieces of work designed to help you identify what Brexit may mean for your business. The first is a Brexit Checklist – a list of practical ideas to help with business planning. It may not help alleviate all the uncertainty, but it’s better than just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

The second is a Brexit Risk Register – which we’ll use to assess whatever deal the government comes up with (if any), and check to see that it meets the basics that businesses need to carry on trading as before – not just exporters, but all businesses in the UK.

We have our Chamber Online campaign – Terms of Trade: The Reality of Brexit for Business - with case studies and thought leadership pieces on Brexit from businesses in Greater Manchester as well as London and Bristol.

Our Trade Team is also delivering a series of courses on planning for Brexit and giving advice on what we know will happen and what steps businesses should be taking.

None of these are designed or meant to be used as political tools, nor as a way of turning basic information into a pro-leave or pro-remain argument. I’m sure we’ve all had enough of people twisting things into propaganda for one side or the other.

You may well be bored of Brexit (more likely it’s all the baggage that numerous experts bring with them as they dominate the airwaves with what they think might happen), but now more than ever is the time to be aware of what is happening. We know of several businesses that have already lost EU workers and also lost contracts to firms based on the continent.

This is not project fear – it is the unfortunate reality for some businesses already. Who knows it may stop, it may only be a handful of instances, it may get worse, it may get better – but it is happening and it’s a scandal that no-one can offer any accurate ideas or solutions.

So, are we there yet?  I’m not even sure we know where we are going never mind how much further we have to travel. That will, hopefully, become clearer over the next few months one way or the other and as that happens we will be in a much better position to know exactly what needs doing and offer more practical help and advice to our members and others. Please look out for our regular updates and news of events and other ways that you can find out what Brexit really will mean for your business. No-one has any answers at present, the pieces are all still in the air but land they will and hopefully sooner rather than later.

If you have any evidence of how Brexit has impacted on your business, good or bad, we want to hear from you. Contact me at chris.fletcher@gmchamber.co.uk