The uncertainty caused by Brexit is threatening businesses and jobs in Swansea, local business leaders are warning, describing it as “disastrous”.
The warning comes as the UK government issued its assessment of the impact of a no deal Brexit: food price hikes, widespread disruption to trade, and at least a £13 billion cost to business.
Major UK employers such as Airbus, Nissan, Ford, Sainsburys and Honda have already warned of the huge impact on jobs.
Now local businesses too are sounding the alarm about Brexit uncertainty, warning that Swansea and its surrounding area will not escape the impact.
Ben Donald, Sales Director of Celtic Chemicals, said:
“We have built a successful business in Port Talbot manufacturing and distributing specialty mineral salts and I’m appalled by the lack of certainty our industry and other sectors are facing.
We import and export throughout the EU and it is impossible to plan when we do not know what will happen at the ports and borders after March 29th.
A vote on March 12th gives only 17 days’ notice for businesses on what could be the biggest economic and trading upheaval we face in a generation. We are being badly let down.”
John Davies, a Swansea-based analyst with British Finance Trust, a specialist funder for businesses, said:
“The uncertainty that is created for business is disastrous. More complicated businesses will not be able to function. Simple businesses will not be able to function effectively.
A coach company with tours is having to stop taking orders as they don’t know if tours can go ahead. The pound has dropped, and everything costs more, but they get no more income. Drivers will not be able to drive in Europe. There are issues with capacity and customs problems at the ports. Yet the company still has to pay for the £250,000 coach it bought to do this work.”
Dr Nils von Sicard, Managing Director of Enzyme Research Laboratories Ltd, based in Llansamlet, explained that Brexit would affect his business in three ways.
“First and most immediately, since a number of our products are manufactured in the US our profitability is directly linked to currency fluctuations. A drop in the pound and increased costs could render the business unviable.
Secondly and in the near term European funding which underpins most medical research on which our business relies will be cut.
Thirdly since our client base stretches to Europe any further disruption to frictionless trade, tariffs, delays and further red tape on time sensitive goods would have a negative impact.”
The warnings from local businesses come as the chaos caused by Brexit is increasing, with the government stockpiling food and medicines and spending billions of pounds of public money on preparations.
At the same time, feedback from Swansea for Europe street stalls and evidence from opinion polls all indicate a clear shift in public opinion. The UK public is now clearly in favour of remaining in the European Union, by a margin of 54% to 46%, a combination of six polls has shown.
Paul Willner, chair of Swansea for Europe, said:
“Brexit is a disaster for jobs and for businesses. Sony, Airbus, Dyson, Nissan, Honda, Ford; now local businesses too are sounding the alarm. So-called project fear has become project fact.
There was never an upside to Brexit. The downsides are becoming more and more obvious and local businesses and working people are the ones who suffer
At the same time, the feedback we get from the streets of Swansea and the evidence from opinion polls all point to the same conclusion: the tide has turned against Brexit in Swansea. People are seeing through the false promises. The cold hard reality is that Brexit is already damaging our city, our economy and our NHS.
Time is short, but it’s not too late. We’re urging people to contact their MP to tell them of their concerns over Brexit and to ask them to support a People’s Vote.”