Brexit Bites – What local business owners say

By Fiona Scott on 1 March, 2019

Brexit is undoubtedly going to be front of mind for most business owners and entrepreneurs with just four weeks to Friday March 29 – Brexit Day.

In such a fast-moving environment it’s difficult to pin down what is going to happen when – the story changes hour to hour. At the time of writing, are we going to get a no-deal scenario? Or are we going to see our government and opposition implode through disagreements and infighting?

What is clear is that several large national business organisations are pushing for the ‘imperfect deal’ to be accepted. These include the Institute of Directors, the CBI and the National Farmers’ Union. They are strongly against having a ‘no deal’ situation. Calls for a second referendum are getting stronger. The whole situation is so fluid – who knows what will happen next?

Yet what do local business owners think. Here are just a few comments from local voices.

Jan De Jong of People Business Psychology Ltd said:

Pictured above: Jan De Jonge

“Government politicians, as any leaders, would want to and need to be authentic, or, true to themselves, their own beliefs.

“It strikes me the Prime Minister, who had been declaring to want to remain in the EU, surrendered her authenticity by substituting her belief for the will of the people when she declared she would fight for Brexit.

“This also applies to local MP Claire Perry, whom I helped handing out “Remain” leaflets a week or so before the referendum in 2016. Some may call it a change of mind.

“The Dutch passport I held on to may ensure it remains easier for me to travel into mainland Europe – sometimes at short notice.”

Pictured above: Naz Ahsun

Naz Ahsun, publisher at Vision Maker Press and local author said:

“The irresponsibility of Parliament is definitely alarming. It is clear their duty of care does not include the British people and is more about how they can advance their own personal causes.

“With leadership contests and threats of holding a general election high on the agenda, the level of uncertainty and fear being spread is at an all-time high. If the political parties can bench the need to be right and do the right thing by working together toward a solution, then the country can be on a more stable footing rather than lost in a cloud of uncertainty and confusion. As a consequence of their actions, the UK could find itself poorer than it has been in decades.”

Pictured above: Andy Poulton

Andy Poulton who runs Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions in Royal Wootton Bassett said:

“I’m annoyed with the prevarication. We should now threaten to leave under WTO rules. If the EU backs down, great. If not – that’s their lookout.”

Pictured above: Lis McDermott and her husband Conrad

Lis McDermott, professional photographer at Headshot Diva and author, said:

“I felt and still feel extremely sad at the thought of leaving the EU. The thing that makes me most saddened is the racism that seems to have been unleashed by some, who think it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people who have lived here for years, they should go back home. I don’t want to live in a Britain where we are going backwards, and becoming insular, and ‘little Englanders’! There is little strength in moving backwards! In my eyes we are stronger as part of the EU, than going alone.”

Hilary Shenton, of Raine Recruitment in Market Lavington said:

“Having been an ardent leaver I am so sick of the subject I almost don’t care whether we stay or go…provided it’s one or the other!”

Pictured above: Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown says Brexit has already influenced him – he’s now wound up his business in the UK and started again in Estonia, where he will have to live most of the time.

“SB VisionConsult Ltd specialised in policy implementation planning, most notably in relation to trade and sustainable development. Its business turnover derived almost entirely from work conducted for larger consulting firms in the EU27, working on contracts financed predominantly by the European Commission.

“Free movement in and around Europe and guaranteed efficient air travel all over the world are two things without which the business could not function in any way whatsoever that would be acceptable to its clients.

“Added to this there was the issue of credibility: how could a company registered in the UK continue to be a credible provider of services so central to EU policy? As the company’s director, I have had to make two very difficult decisions.

“The easier of the two decisions was to wind up SB VisionConsult Ltd in the UK and set up SB VisionConsult OÜ based in Tallinn, Estonia.

“The more difficult decision relates to how I can mitigate the risk of air travel from UK airports being disrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit. There is one, and only way to do that: base myself outside the UK – and away from my family – for as long as the risk remains. (I will probably choose either Estonia or Romania, for linguistic reasons.) Even that is not without difficulty, because I cannot guarantee my legal status in whatever country I choose. Nobody should be forced to make a decision of this nature merely to satisfy some political ideology.”

Shirley Ludford, founder of Swindon 105.5 community radio said: “We’ll survive whatever the decision, but politicians – shame you can’t stop point scoring.”

Pictured above: Nikki Kinton

Nicki Kinton of Confident Cashflow, based in Swindon said:

“A lot of owners of small, local or regional businesses I come across seem to think that Brexit won’t have any impact on them – it’s something that affects you if your business is big, exports or employs workers from mainland Europe.

“What they are failing to see is the knock-on effect it could have to their cashflow. The uncertainty of the future caused by Brexit, deal or no deal, is causing businesses and consumers to be more cautious in their decision making and spending, i.e. fewer buying decisions and increased late payments. That creates a chain reaction from big business down to smallest of businesses – the difference is the bigger businesses tend to have more cash reserves to fall back on.”

Emma Lawton of HUF Design said, “We need to stand our ground firmly in our negotiations.  Look how the Gillet Jaune have succeeded in influencing the French government.  In all the smoke and mirrors, who knows what has actually been going on but I get the feeling we have not been strong enough.

“If David Cameron had been stronger negotiating the package of changes to the United Kingdom’s terms of membership to the European Union (EU) and changes to EU rules in 2013, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation now.

“I believe our politicians have lost faith in the greatness of our nation and see us as a weakening power and as such are unable to stand up against countries who have a strong national identity.”

Strong opinions still on both sides of this argument. Yet one thing is crystal clear – we need to know what the plan is to allow us to move forward as business owners and for the economy as a whole. Uncertainty is deadly for business.