The media momentum is gathering in the lead up to the UK’s historic referendum on continued membership of the European Union, or #BREXIT as it has become known, on Thursday June 23rd. For a political and economic spectator, with no input on the result, such as myself, it makes for fascinating viewing. Currently polls are showing the remain side with a slim majority however this is narrowing all the time as undecided voters begin to feel a preference one way or the other. However, we do know that polls can be misleading or indeed can influence voter behaviour in the run up to polling day. Also we have seen in recent times that certain polling companies in the UK, for whatever reason, badly misjudged the likely outcome of the UK general election so the margin for error is tight.
Overall, it would appear that there is much to play for over the coming weeks, however, what is interesting at this point in time is the types of arguments for and against that are likely to have an influence over the decisions of the business community in terms of how they decide to vote.
On the remain side, we see lots of the multi-national entities with a presence in the UK warning that a UK exit may lead them to reconsider their ongoing market presence, particularly in the area of financial services. Whilst these businesses are making statements on this matter it unclear as to the likely course of action that would be followed or the timeline associated with it.
However, on the leave side we see that many small businesses feel that EU mandated legislation perhaps makes for a challenging operating environment as EU regulations become transposed into UK law that are perhaps more onerous than is maybe necessary where they trade domestically only. What is unclear, is to the speed or extent to which EU regulations could or indeed would, be unravelled from UK regulation and indeed to what extent those UK businesses exporting to the EU would be in a position to stop applying EU regulations easily.
Similarly, in terms of movement of people it is unclear as to the likely impact of changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU might have. In the first instance it is clear that the movement of migrants is a hot topic here, however, it should also be borne in mind that there is massive movement of people for business purposes within the EU and most significantly between Ireland and UK. The significance of the Irish British relationship should not be understated particularly in a situation whereby there is a UK decision to leave the EU and Ireland remains a member. Notably with regards to the facts that,
- The UK’s only land border is with Ireland
- Ireland and the UK remain within the top 5 trading partners of each other
- It is estimated that there is somewhere between 250k and 400k citizen of each country currently resident in the other
- The Dublin – London air route is reportedly the second busiest in the world.
Without doubt, a changed situation between the UK and Ireland in terms of freedom of movement as a result of a UK exit would significantly change the business environment between the two nations.
These are just a couple of examples of likely impacts as a direct result of the outcome referendum on June 23rd. What is certain is that on the basis of the changes to the terms of the UK membership of the EU negotiated recently, even if the popular vote is to remain it is clear that the relationship will be much changed between the UK and EU.
I’m interested to understand your business position with regards to #Brexit via the comments section.
What are the likely impacts for your business? Do you have a preference either way? Do you believe it will have any material impact on you personally or from a business perspective? What are the likely changes that you anticipate from an operational perspective?