Hundreds of lawyers are arguing about Brexit at a consitutional and government level. Businesses are uncertain about Brexit, leaving many areas of our society anxious about the future.
Many countries, including Japan, the United States and Canada have voiced their worries over the past few months of the potential impact that a poorly-handled Brexit could have on their ability to run their businesses from the UK.
Some companies are showing concern, not only with the impending departure from the EU itself, but also with the lack of clear information being published by the government about its position in negotiating the future after triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Lincolnshire employer, Smiffy’s, has already voiced their concern over the time taken to break ground with Brexit. They say they have experienced a loss of sales, and only expect this to increase as time goes on and a lack of direction remains. As a result of this, they have made plans to move their headquarters to the Netherlands echoing the fears of other companies earlier in the year such as banking giant JP Morgan and Vodafone.
One fear is the lack of access to the single market. Many see this as a step backwards. Another is the impact of a restriction on EU migration, with many employers saying that this could reduce the level of skill and expertise available in the job market.
However, there is a flipside to the argument. Whilst some businesses are expressing concern, others (albeit smaller businesses) have said they could potentially benefit from the lack of bureaucratic restraint on trade and business which some see as inherent within the EU.
Theresa May is steadfast in her plan to enact Article 50 by the end of March 2017. There had been fears that this could be postponed but she has secured this timetable in a vote in the House of Commons.
It wasn’t long before lawyers became involved; a High Court ruling at the beginning of November ruled that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without support from the House of Commons. This is being appealed to the Supreme Court and the outcome of that appeal is not known.
This had an enormous impact; the value of the pound rocketed to a four-week high. If the ruling of the Supreme Court in January 2017 upholds this decision, we think that it is likely that the desire of businesses to escape the UK to avoid the impact of a “hard” Brexit will be lessened. Hard Brexit is leaving without obtaining a prior agreement on EU tariffs, meaning we fall back on less favourable ETO rules.
Will Theresa May manage to negotiate a “soft” Brexit , protecting jobs abroad and securing trade with our old partners? Or, will the advocates of a “hard” or “clean” Brexit emerge victorious, effectively ending our relationship with Europe in favour of, what they argue to be, more lucrative opportunities with the rest of the world and an end to the restraint placed on the UK by excessive bureaucracy? At this point, it is still uncertain, and this lack of certainty is beginning to show itself now in decisions that will undoubtedly affect our society as a whole, and importantly, our businesses.
by Connor Singleton
Part of our Brexit series