Everyday we hear it, a new “fact” or “figure” which explains why we should or shouldn’t leave the EU. Bombarded with these so called facts, it is up to us, the people to make a decision on where our future lies regarding Brexit.
It is however not such an easy decision. The economy faces uncertainty either way and generally speaking the markets don’t deal well with uncertainty. For the remain side you have long term uncertainty with the stability of the EU, the control of key measures such as immigration and pressure on welfare systems which are far superior to other countries. On the Brexit side you have the short term uncertainty of the economy, the general flow of trade the EU brings and the question of will it limit us globally.
Each and everyone of us will have our own opinions to what suits us. Regarding owning a small business where does this leave you? This is also not so straightforward. There are many factors such as type of business you own, do you sell overseas and who you employ. If your business currently deals with or in Europe, will the UK leaving have such a detrimental impact to your business?
What we have to remember is that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world. Will Europe shut us out if we decide to leave? I highly doubt that. Business is transactional, meaning it goes two ways and works on supply and demand. Being a main benefactor of the EU, the European Union has more to lose from withdrawing trade or imposing high tariffs on Britain than the other way around. Brexit gives the UK a freedom to trade with the rest of the world without the high tariffs imposed by the EU. It opens up the market and lowers the pricing.
Controlling numbers of immigration will lessen the pool of workers, arguably good for tradesman, bad for companies who deal with cheap labour or have a multinational work base. However many of us work online nowadays, hiring people can be done remotely. For those that are after the best talent, immigration should be based on what people can offer the country in terms of skills. Having free movement of labour within Europe when the standard of living is vastly different, is frankly absurd.
On the other hand remaining in the EU will drive down economic risk in the short term. The markets will rally. Naturally there will be a flood of low and high skilled workers which pushes down trade prices and potentially make labour cheap. Businesses that deal with Europe already will not directly have any impact on their business.
There is also no doubt that dealing with a much larger pool in general is good for expanding businesses. It opens up markets, especially with EU legislation prohibiting any sort monopoly being created.
The question no one knows is, will the UK still be part of or be able to negotiate some kind of ‘common market’ with the EU if they do Brexit? As I said before, I think that being part of a general trading block with the EU is something which has mutual benefits.
In my view, this is what it comes down to. Many SMEs that we spoke to were split, with key issues such as building partnerships or hiring abroad meaning that they face uncertainty to the limitations that will be placed on their business and their staff. So called politicians of both sides have done a poor job of giving us real understanding, rather scare mongering and using underhand tactics to make people vote in an emotional rather than informed way.
This plays on the fact that many of us don’t like uncertainty. However it is a key driver for running a small business. We have all been there and come out the other side. Being in a place where we were not sure of what was going to happen, fearing the worst but actually it worked out better for us. Uncertainty is a double edged sword, let it control you and it brings about fear, embrace it and it brings opportunity. I believe this is exactly the same with Brexit.