When you heard of the EU Referendum result, did you think that it was the end, for good or ill? If so you were quite wrong. We are still in the EU until the negotiations are over. It will involve a process which is expected to take two years.
People who hoped or feared that we would be outside the EU immediately will be in for a shock, or relief. A lot will not change yet.
- Borders will remain open.
- We will still be in the free market.
- EU laws will still apply.
There are lots of new risks but also new opportunities. Which ones materialise will depend on what we do next. Here are some of the issues.
Negotiating a trade deal with the EU.
- Will that include the free movement of people? Students?
- Who will be allowed to fish in whose waters?
- Will there be any tariffs?
- Will there still be cooperation in science and technology?
How will we spend the billions we will not be paying into the EU Budget?
- Will projects currently funded by the EU be cut?
- Will agriculture still be subsidised?
- Will there be big tax cuts?
- Will the Debt be cleared sooner?
Which EU laws, or laws introduced to comply with the EU, we are to abolish, which to keep and which to amend.
- Health & Safety
- Workers’ rights
- Environmental protection
Border controls: what arrangements will there be?
Issues within the UK and with the rest of the world.
- Scotland: another referendum?
- Northern Ireland: new border controls?
- Trade deals with the USA, China, and other nations.
Finally someone has to choose a new Prime Minister to sort all this out.
So we must be ready to look for new opportunities while being prepared for new risks. I hope that is also how you manage your business.
This is not the end.
Some people wonder why there is so much concern about the steel industry. Lots of businesses fail every year. That’s capitalism. The wonders of the Free Market.
The obvious reason steel matters is the size of the problem. The number of jobs at risk. All at once. Other industries decline over longer periods and the people losing their jobs can often be employed in other businesses, gradually. The thousands at risk in the steel industry could not all be absorbed at once into other industries. Or even not at once.
The other factor is that in most areas where steel is produced it is the main employer. If steel-making disappears there will be very little left. This may be hard for some people to appreciate if they live in London or somewhere else where there are jobs in all sorts of different types of businesses.
The Free Market has allowed many parts of the country to become over-dependent on certain industries: steel, coal, shipbuilding, car-manufacturing, even agriculture. A downturn in one of these industries affects almost everyone in the area either directly or indirectly. Efforts at growing new industries to replace the old have usually been ineffective. The scale of the problem was too great.
Is this an argument for more active government? Would economic planning be the answer? Is this a case for Socialism? (Remember that?) Why not? You can have planned economic development without total state control of everything. It may be too late for some industries in some areas, but it is worth thinking about for the future.
And what about your business?
- Do you have all your eggs in one basket?
- Do you depend on one major client?
- How quickly could your business adapt to changes in demand for your product or service?
- Could you develop another product line or a different facet of your business?
- Is it too late to think about Plan B?
Have you ever discussed this with colleagues?
How about talking to consultants?
Don’t leave it until it’s too late!