Friday, 21 December 2018

Brexit: and the impact on business in the South West

John Harris has been around much of the country these past two-and-a-half years - including Devon: 

Certainly, whenever I have spent time in leave-voting areas, I have always felt deeply ambivalent: sick and tired of the delusions that sit at Brexit’s heart, but also keenly aware that in some of the most neglected parts of England and Wales, a huge chunk of the people who voted for it did so because they had not been listened to for decades.

And every month brings stories, too often overlooked, of how Brexit will blight the places that supported it: this week it was news about a doomed ball-bearing factory in Plymouth, in business for 50 years and now owned by the German company Schaeffler, but set to close with the loss of more than 350 jobs – partly, says the company, because of the “uncertainties surrounding Brexit”.

Brexit is a class betrayal. So why is Labour colluding in it? | John Harris | Opinion | The Guardian

From the business community in the South West:

Tim Jones, chairman of the South West Business Council, has recently said: "The business view is saying quite aggressively now: 'Enough is enough'. Every day that goes by is more investment decisions that are not being made. This is having a very real effect on our economy and the prosperity of our communities. Whatever you think of the deal, it is a deal and businesses need to have something to hang their hat on and a framework to work with. As long as they know what they are working with, businesses can just get on with it."

Brexit delay is a 'blow for business' - Devon Live

Meanwhile, in Cornwall, businesses are trying to prepare for no-deal:

Factory managers 'don't know what impact Brexit will have'

Neil Gallacher, Business & Industry Correspondent
BBC Spotlight

20 December 2018

A number of factory bosses in Cornwall say it is impossible to prepare for a no-deal Brexit because there is no way to know what crashing out of the EU would mean in practice.

The boss of one engineering business near Callington, Keith Ingram of Interfluid Hydraulics, admits he has a Eurosceptic streak. But he says he is hoping for an outcome that protects free movement of goods with the EU...

BBC Devon & Cornwall Live: 20 December - BBC News

As they are in Devon:

What would a No-Deal Brexit mean for Devon?

Devon businesses are getting ready for no-deal and double checking supply chains and exchange rates to weather uncertainty

Hannah Finch
11 DEC 2018

Businesses in Devon are being warned to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

The decision to delay a crucial vote has heightened fears that the UK could stumble into a no-deal exit from the EU in March. And businesses are already acting on their contingency plans if a deal cannot be agreed in time.

Ian Brokenshire, senior partner at Plymouth KPMG, said: “There's a mix of small businesses who have only just realised they need to act and larger businesses who are activating their plans. We think everybody needs to think about the basics and the surprises lurking in the detail of contracts, which may lead to suppliers not being able to deliver.

"There are a number of clients in the South West who simply can’t now hold off any longer before implementing contingencies. In general businesses like everyone else, are pondering how the next few months might turn out and what that means to the way they operate. Brexit is absorbing a great deal of time and energy in businesses across the region.”

But the deal is far from what the people voted for back in 2016, said Nathan Peacey, a partner at law firm Foot Anstey.

He said: "I would take the Tardis back to 2016 and re-run the vote with a clear – and honest – articulation of the choices on the ballot paper and their consequences. The political gridlock we're in now was born out of the ambiguity over whether Leave meant a Norway-style deal, a 'hard' Brexit or something else altogether. As a result we have a fudged deal which doesn't bear much, if any, resemblance to what anyone was contemplating when they cast their vote for Remain or Leave. "

Mr Peacey said that the risk of a no deal scenario is more real even if not yet a certainty. He said: "Many businesses have already recognised that a plan for no deal is a prudent business protection measure – although the timeframe to make meaningful plans is fast disappearing."

Daniel Sladen, Partner at PKF Francis Clark, said that the fear is that the Government’s tactic is to run down the clock and try and scare MPs into backing the deal rather than reaching an unintentional no-deal on 29 March.

Is tech the future of the post-Brexit economy in the South West?

"This has to mean that leaving with no deal is more likely, and that it may be quite a few weeks before we know what happens next. For any businesses that were keeping their contingency plans on hold, now is the time to take no-deal planning seriously and take any available steps to preserve access to goods, services and markets that their business relies on."

This is the reality for Devon’s 27,000 Europeans living in Brexit limbo

A EU Court of Justice ruling on Monday concluded that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 and halt the Brexit process without getting permission from the EU. Mr Sladen said: "This gives the Government more options to pull back from its cliff-edge approach, but it’s not clear whether there is the political will to do this."

Stuart Brocklehurst, chief executive of online marketplace Applegate in Barnstaple, said that businesses need to be in good shape to stay competitive.

He said: "It’s a good time to look at the fundamental health of your business: are you paying the right amount for your suppliers; if you’re reliant on existing customers do you know how you would win new ones if they went away? I’d caution against cutting back too hard on investment, however: the uncertainty around Brexit has already reduced this, and we risk leaving ourselves poorly equipped for future recovery if it drops further.”

What would a No-Deal Brexit mean for Devon? - Devon Live

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