On 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union – fulfilling the democratic decision taken by the British public.
Recent government forecasts have warned that Brexit will make the UK worse off than staying in the EU. A no deal could shrink the UK economy by an estimated 9.3%
The government now faces a difficult vote in the house of commons on the 11th December.
Should parliament accept or reject the deal? Should there be a general election or even a new people’s referendum?
Our panel’s thoughts can be found below, but if you would like to contribute to this feature, or any of our future features, please contact [email protected]
Adrian Aurelius | Chair of the NatWest Cymru Board
Key to any business is stability and the ability to plan and prepare and this is the biggest difficulty businesses in Wales are facing right now because of Brexit. We are trying to provide stability amidst this uncertainty through the announcement of a £3bn fund to support businesses throughout Wales and the rest of the UK during the transition process.
Our relationship managers too are working directly with customers we believe may be impacted by Brexit to offer advice and support; whether that’s traditional funding for working capital, increased stock, or Foreign Exchange impact.
As well as the challenges businesses may face we’re also here to help our customers see upside opportunities too and to take advantage of them. Our priority is to ensure they are able to succeed in 2019 and we remain positive they will do so.
Karen Thomas | Head of Corporate Banking
Barclays will continue to work with the Government and Parliament to ensure that we collectively achieve a new relationship with Europe which amplifies the ability of the UK to compete on the global stage, and to maintain as much access as possible between the UK and EU financial markets on behalf of our customers and clients.
A no-deal Brexit would be enormously disruptive to our customers and clients as well as the broader financial markets. We will continue to work positively and constructively with all our relevant stakeholders on the new relationship between the UK and the EU.
There are a number of problematic risks in the event of a ‘no deal’. First and foremost, any uncertainty over the rights of citizens would be very damaging for thousands of our customers and colleagues alike. We would hope, in the event of ‘no deal’, that both sides could agree a pragmatic and humane way forward on this issue as an absolute priority.
Current uncertainty is unhelpful for us and our clients and we would welcome further progress.
Our contingency plans are already underway. This is a necessary reflection of the fact we need to prepare for every eventuality. We cannot rely on the existence of a transition period without ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and legal certainty that it will happen.
Barclays has been Backing the UK for 327 years. The breadth of our business means we are able to play a significant role across society and the economy. Every day we help over 24 million customers and clients to reach their potential. No matter what challenges lie ahead, Barclays continues to stand ready to help.
Che Hooking | CEO
The huff and the bluff from the left and the right, spurious repercussions proclaimed with fury and might
The results came in and the decision was out, no one expected this to happen, what to do now we all shout
We are lions lead by lions, the oldest democracy in town, no one will make good old Blighty the clown
Ahh this is tough, far tougher than expected, if we want all the benefits, then we have to stay connected
Our politicians wage war, fighting foe after foe whilst reminding us all, this was YOUR choice you know
Stick, Twist or Bust, your only choice, right? But I think on reflection, we must be contrite
Why take any, or try an addendum, now we know the options lets hold a [second] referendum
Matthew Jones | Managing Director
We are all acutely aware that uncertainty is detrimental to business; how can we make plans and investment decisions? Businesses need clarity. Coming from an R&D tax credit perspective, what does this mean for our clients? Well not a lot. If there is no deal, the Government have stated they will match EU state aid rules (for the time being). So essentially the relief won’t change. However, going forward, if we can get free of EU state aid restrictions and R&D capping rules, we could make the UK an extremely attractive place for tech and innovative companies to locate, with obvious positive implications for the economy.
Neil Dagger | Head of Marketing, Planning, Insight and Analysis
There is certainly a perspective that regardless of what happens in the political corridors of Westminster and Brussels, that great entrepreneurs in Wales will still start up brilliant business ideas targeting Welsh markets and beyond, ambitious students will create CV or blogging sites to build an early following; and businesses of all sizes will still need websites, whether we are in or out. National identity and location will always be important consumer considerations from a geographic, legal and currency perspective. If you operate a business from within Wales, what better than to fly the flag on a .cymru or .wales domain name.
M4 Media & Training
Laurence Winmill | Chief Executive Officer
This is one of the biggest political and constitutional decisions this country has ever had to deal with. I certainly don’t know the answer, but our whole democracy would be questioned if you ignored the referendum result with further division guaranteed. We elect MP’s in parliament to carry out the people’s wishes and they need to step up take responsibility and make the decision in the national interest. If they fail the people at this crucial time it will undermine the credibility of parliament for generations to come.
Graham L Morgan | Managing Director
I firmly believe most Businesses across Wales and other parts of the UK just want to have a decision one way or another and move on. Whilst there are indications big Corporates have held back on investment until the future is clearer for the average Family Business Owner they have had to plough on.
At the end of any year planning for the next is important and very much a time to reflect. Producer Price Inflation to the end of September 2018 was at 10.5% in the Office of National Statistics figures. Whichever business you are in this gives a benchmark for the type of price rises you need to consider to bring in early in 2019. Every business in my opinion need to look at:
- Staff – have you been relying on European workers?
- Supply Chain – could they be impacted and cause you problems.
- Key Customers – who are they? Are you speaking to them about any possible impact?
- Import/Export – if you are involved in either have an independent review of what could happen. Its never easy to see the broader picture when you are in it!
- Consider some contingencies.
- Be ready for new opportunities.
Now is the time to spend some quality time reflecting on where your business actually is right now and what scenarios could play out in 2019. Having an independent emotionally detached expert to facilitate a debate is absolutely the best approach.
We need our Politicians to start doing what we elected them to do – make decisions!!
Alistair Wardell | Lead Partner
With just 15 weeks to go before Brexit day, we still have no agreement on what Brexit will be. The vote next week may not provide any further clarity for businesses.
Business should not wait for the politicians to reach an agreement. It could be February or even March before this political deadlock breaks. By then it will be too late to make contingency plans for 29 March.
At Grant Thornton we’ve been helping organisations make business continuity plans for a No Deal Brexit (as the most immediate and most disruptive scenario); look for opportunities that this may create; and get match fit, focusing on business basics like cash-flow, retaining and attracting talent, sweating your assets to meet customer need, and removing unnecessary costs.
“As we face greater political volatility than any time in the last forty years, businesses should keep calm, carry on and be ready for change.
Matthew Tucker | Investment Analyst
Whilst the cabinet has approved the draft deal, the Parliamentary arithmetic doesn’t look good for the Prime Minister. The Labour Party will likely vote against the deal, as will the Liberal Democrats and the nationalist parties.
More worrying for the Prime Minster, however, will be the loss of votes on the government benches. Arlene Foster, the DUP party leader, has explicitly rejected the deal, stating that anything which creates a border in the Irish Sea would breach her party’s red line of no regulatory divergence with Great Britain.
Should the Prime Minster fail to gain the support of her Eurosceptic backbenchers, the deal is unlikely to pass through Parliament.
If that happens, there are several possible scenarios; the removal of Theresa May as Prime Minister, the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal, re-opening negotiations with the EU (although they will likely reject this); a general election, and possibly a second referendum.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. However, the likely rejection of the withdrawal agreement would see the country face a constitutional crisis unseen for decades.