Impact of Brexit on UK exports and on business

Thursday, on the 8th of February, Victoria from Bolst Global was invited to attend the Institute of Directors (IOD) North Yorkshire Business Breakfast in Harrogate, to participate as a panellist in  a roundtable discussion on the topic of  Brexit. The main purpose of this event was to collect different views of the invited speakers on the possible impact of Brexit on UK business and, in particular, on those British businesses exporting to Europe.

In a referendum held on 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom electorate decided to leave the European Union and, today, the country is still in the process of withdrawing its membership from the Union. However, we are almost approaching 1 year out from the day the UK is expected to exit from the Union, since it is scheduled to depart on Friday 29 March 2019, and the future of the country and of UK business amidst this seismic change is still not clear.

Victoria kindly invited me to take part in this breakfast event and I was very glad to have this amazing opportunity. For me as an Italian person, listening to all the different British viewpoints on the results of this referendum have been very interesting, even because I have written my Master’s thesis on the effects of Brexit and on the future of English as the common lingua franca of the European Union.

The participants of this debate were experts and in the international business sector and entrepreneurs from the Leeds region. They had been invited to share their opinions on Brexit and on the future of the UK market, making also reference to their own working experience.

When participants were asked to give their impressions about the effects of Brexit on business and on exporting, they have given varying answers and perspectives.

Timothy Dewey, Chief Executive of Timothy Taylor’s argued that the Government is not helping UK businesses since it is not providing enough information about what is going to happen after Brexit, and this scares entrepreneurs who have business affairs in European countries.

Margaret Wood who runs ICW agreed with Timothy and has admitted that there has been a lack of understanding and communication from the Government before the Brexit vote. However, she also thinks that entrepreneurs in UK now have to get on and accept Brexit and its possible effects. British people took a decision and they should respect it because this is what democracy is all about. Also Dan Gill who owns Dine believes that entrepreneurs’ job is not politics and so they should not take a position on Brexit as such but focus on what can be done to future proof UK businesses.

Dan Gill is convinced that it is true that there is a lack of information about the future of the United Kingdom after Brexit, and then he has also added that British businesses should now try to engage with new scenarios and with countries outside the European Union.

This idea is also shared by Victoria, who argues that her clients are more and more interested in expanding to other countries outside Europe. Many of them want to expand to new markets and, in particular to the Gulf, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia where Brexit is simply not a matter that is discussed nor even mentioned.

This is what also Margaret Wood thinks, since the most successful companies trade globally and not only in Europe, so British businesses should now focus on new markets. Moreover in such a global context, the Internet and social media, in particular could be very helpful, as they provide an important digital reach  that could be useful for UK brands willing to expand overseas.

Overall, at the end of the debate the participants of the roundtable were quite optimistic about the future after Brexit. Although they agree on the fact that there is a consistent lack of communication, they all believe that information will start to crystallise as time goes by and everything will be clearer. After all, businesses can succeed only if entrepreneurs focus on what they can actually do , that is to say running their businesses and facing challenges, such as Brexit, with a positive attitude.

In addition to this IOD event Victoria will also be involved in the Doing business in Dubai event next month in Leeds

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