Innovation

“Brexit”: An uncertainty that has divided the nation

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SAP---Brexit

With David Cameron’s confirmation that a full in-out EU referendum will take place by the end of 2017, a once national anxiety has turned global, with “Brexit”- a British exit from the EU- quickly becoming a possible reality. The issue of Europe has, like with the Tory party itself, divided the nation, and despite the obvious lack of unanimous support, Cameron has still vowed to reshape Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Much of the controversy surrounding Brexit comes from the cloud of uncertainty which looms over the concept of a Britain outside of the European Union. Eurosceptics paint a rose coloured picture of non-membership life.  Free from the restrictions of Brussels and membership fees, Brexit would allow Britain to become more prosperous; reversing immigration, reducing taxes and freeing the economy of membership burdens. Europhiles however paint Brexit as an event which will drastically affect British industries, cause economic uncertainty, job losses and the potential loss of London’s status as a world financial centre.  Businesses reliant on Britain’s relationship with the EU are particularly concerned, stating that withdrawal will simply damage economic growth and hinder their ability to function.

What is clear is that two rivalling camps have developed in the media with the overarching theme being one of concern with a little hint of exaggeration mixed into the arguments on both sides.  Therefore we at think bigger wanted to hear from real business experts on what their opinions were on the potential “Brexit”.

Co-founders of Hassle.com, Alex Depledge and Jules Coleman think, “A British exit from the EU would end the principle of free movement of workers within Europe. Much of the tech industry’s growth is a result of talented developers from across Europe not only filling in Britain’s skills gap, but passing on knowledge to local developers and helping the industry thrive. This talent pool would be put at risk with EU employees now living in Britain becoming subject to new visa and legal requirements.”

Peter Burgess, Director at London-based Retail Human Resources, a recruitment company specialising in the retail sector comments, “An exit would only be bad news for the UK and it will also cause massive economic upheaval in Europe and around the world; and we will be held responsible. Of course we will get a trade agreement but such an agreement will still require us to pay in. We will be in the same place we are in now but without a say on how the rules are made.  There is very little up-side but potentially a devastating down side.”

James Poyser, co-founder of inniAccounts, an online accountancy state, “I think any trading business in the UK, from FTSE through to the sole trader, will want an end to uncertainty so they can plan their futures. A number of our clients have expressed concern that a break from the EU would undermine the network of SMEs and contractors that work in industries such as IT, science and engineering, and preclude them from the lucrative contracts they enjoy today. For small service businesses, such as rising independent software houses, the EU represents a large, accessible and straightforward market in which to do business: contrast this with the complexities of trading with Asia.  That’s not to say some reform of EU policy wouldn’t be welcome. Take for example newly introduced EU place of supply VAT legislation. The goal of this policy may be praiseworthy – to prevent wholescale abuse of the tax system by multi-nationals, but the administrative impact can be crippling for a small business looking to export digital services to the EU.”

Interestingly, despite the colossal gap between the two differing sides of the argument, one point of agreement exists; if the UK does stay in the EU, reforms must be made. David Cameron’s mission for reform began in May at the EU Latvia Summit.  It will be the successes or failures of these negotiations over the coming months which will determine the probability of “Brexit”. Arguably it is this uncertainty which has lead business owners to hold Europhilic viewpoints such as the ones above; preferring the known, to the uncertain. The big fear surrounds whether Britain will be able to negotiate access to the EU market if it left. For many, despite Cameron’s positive assertions, this is something that shouldn’t be messed with.

  • In 1959 Britain enjoyed a growth of 9%. Since joining the EU we have relinquished our once extensive manufacturing sector worth 459 billion a year.
    I have no doubt that Britain will benefit from leaving the EU

  • John

    If Britain quits EU, the EU has nothing to loose and Britain has a lot to loose

  • Cristian

    If I was British I would without doubt vote for the Brexit. The Greek crisis is just the beginning of a long process of recession in Europe as all the southern countries will follow up late or sooner, Britain should get out very soon if it doesn’t want to be involved, also Britain should get out before the migration crisis becomes stronger and stronger and the EU ( Berlin ) will impose new migration rules to share quotes of immigrants.
    By the way I’m an italian immigrant who lives in UK 5 years now, my comment doesn’t come from my heart but I used common sense. However I wish this country will think to let stay all of us who’ve been living here quite long and especially who really respected the country itself without committing any law offence.

  • Susan Thorpe

    I absolutely agree that we should leave the EU. It was never meant to be as it is today, at least that is what we were lead to believe! I want to be able to help put right a wrong, I would never have voted to be a member of the then EEC. Bring back our borders and put the billions into our health service, police and schools!

  • June Van Orman

    We must leave the EU. Big business and those invested in the EU think only of profit for themselves. What about us, the people who live in the UK. We are being inundated with EU dictates, the majority of which do not help us. The constant demand that this small island, already with over 64,000,000 people, MUST take in more and more migrants is unsustainable. Ask yourselves, who really profits from all this?

  • Bonnie Prince Charlie

    If Britain leaves the EU and the EU decides to impose restrictions of any kind on British goods and services, Britain can retaliate by doing the same. Remember, the EU exports more to Britain than we do to the EU so they have more to lose.

  • Richard

    Exciting the EU? It does not look as if the UK has ever been part of it! What with no Euro, no Schengen, one foot in London, the other in the US… The UK has always been a burden to the EU. Please, leave the EU completely before you destroy it.

  • Colin Walker

    Way back, we joined a Common Market that was designed to ease the trading between countries. All well and good.
    But, at what point did we offer to relinquish our independence and allow Europe to craft our laws and behaviour. This, I believe is at the heart of our EU membership. So, end our political connection with Europe and do what the country has voted for twice in the past and that was for a Common Market which as the name implies is a market and nothing more. European government has become a gigantic burocratic machine drawing on more and more of Europes wealth just to keep itself running. When the Balkans and the old Yugoslave states join this EU, even more money will be drawn from the wealthy nations to modernise them. Enough, we would be better out and let Germany have its empire and don’t think for one moment that BMW, Bosch, Seimens, etc are going to stop trading with us. We need to gather that old confidence and go out and trade with the world and not stick to a saturated stale market in which I don’t think we do all that well anyway.

  • Ugaas

    Many foreign billionaire invested London / UK gate way to EU market, so if Cameron exit EU he exit out many foreign investment to French or German.
    I work for a German car manufacture here in the UK (MINI) they have already planned their move in Austria and Holland