Brexit — Keep calm and carry on.
I voted to remain and anyone who woke up this morning in shock that the Leave campaign had won but did not actually bother to vote…you cannot complain; that is why we have a democratic voting system and 51.3% of the people who bothered to vote put a cross in the box to leave.
I am personally disappointed, not just from my pending wedding in Italy becoming 10% more expensive overnight due to the crash in Sterling, but because we now enter a period of significant turmoil. I stand by my thinking before the vote; that it is unclear whether, in the long term, Britain is better off in or out of Europe (there simply is not enough data or crystal balls to know), but in the short to middle term the chaos and economic impact of Brexit was not worth enduring to find out in my opinion. My underlying view is that we still would be better off “in”.
The crash in Sterling is a double-edged sword. Yes, that means that we have less buying power, but it also means that exports (something the UK has long excelled at) will be boosted significantly. The price of our goods and services, from tech to textiles, just became 10% cheaper to international buyers. That is the one clear opportunity I see in the short term and one that businesses in the UK should be aware of. Doubling down on exporting strategy, especially to the US where the dollar is stronger than it has been for years, would be a good move right now.
From what I have read, it will take a minimum of two years to “exit” Europe once we officially push the button (i.e. evoking “Article 50”), and it could take up to ten years to negotiate trade agreements. Ouch. Furthermore, the rest of the European countries are now weaker as a result (comments from Brussels and Munich, not my words), and global stock markets all dropped overnight, which is again a response to uncertainty rather than facts.
So, we have effectively said that we want a divorce but we can’t actually move out. We still need to live in the same village but now all of our neighbours hate us. Yes, we will still go to the local store and buy our groceries, and they will serve us, but we won’t get that extra scoop nor will the price be rounded down to the nearest pound with a smile and a wink.
We will end up with a workable trade agreement because it makes sense for all parties. We will come to a sensible arrangement with regards to the movement of people (I hope) because it makes sense and having been part of the EU for so long, how and why would you want to reverse that?
The potential impact on “labour” rules is perhaps my biggest concern. At The Sandpit we employ an international team in London and anything that makes that more difficult is going to be a huge negative for us. The diversity of our team is one of its great strengths, something I experienced also with my first business in Barcelona. London is a great city that attracts amazing people from all over the world. I really hope that Brexit does not change that.
It will all take time. It will be expensive. It will be uncertain. But hey, as with divorce the only real winners tend to be the lawyers.
The world has not changed overnight, but some of the rules of engagement may well do over time. In the interim, we need to get our heads out of the sand and crack on. It is easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” and “what nexts”, but we are all in charge of our destiny so enjoy the weekend and get focused on Monday to get on with it.