Brexit Resilience under Brexit Event: A Summary
On 18th September, we welcomed Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal and Alex Conway, Assistant Director for Brexit and European Programmes, to discuss the repercussions of Brexit on SMEs — and the importance of forward planning. Here is a summary of what happened during the event and what conclusions we can try to draw on the matter.
16.00 — Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, introduces the discussion.
The Deputy Mayor for Businesses opened our event by giving an overview of the current political environment and emphasizing the risk of a no-deal Brexit on the 31st October. After acknowledging how valuable SMEs are, Rajesh highlighted the importance of forward planning. He announced to the crowd that the London Growth Hub had set up workshops, free of charge, tailored to specific sectors. The project, supported by the Mayor of London, encourages businesses to ‘beat uncertainty and indecision’. Rajesh then ended his introduction by reminding attendees of other programmes put forward by City Hall such as the Mayor’s International Business Programme and the Business Growth Programme. He also highlighted the funds available to SMEs in London, including £50 million from the European Investment Bank, £35 million of European Regional Development Fund as well as funds aimed towards SMEs using emerging technology.
“These funds and programmes aren’t simply about helping SMEs grow, but they are also about mitigating the uncertainty brought about by events like Brexit.” Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business
16.05 — Sietske De Groot, London Growth Hub expert, explains why businesses should sign up to the programme.
“The Brexit process will be either sudden or take 2–3 years (…) Regardless you need to be prepared” Siestke De Groot, London Growth Hub Expert
The new Growth Hub programme, ‘Navigating Brexit for SMEs’, will provide a series of workshops to help businesses increase their resilience under any Brexit outcome. Find out more about the project and sign up to workshops here.
16.10 — Alex Conway, Assistant Director for Brexit and European Programmes, is invited on stage by CEO Simon Pitkeathley.
“If this man can’t answer a question about Brexit, no one can” claimed Simon Pitkeathley as he introduced Alex Conway. For the next hour, the speaker described his views on Brexit and tackled some questions on the controversial topic. Alex started by outlining Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s position on Brexit, before describing how trading as an independent country would work.
Later, Alex gave an overview of different types of funding — explaining that a lot of that originated from the European Union and managed by City Hall. While those funds will be given out until the 2023, it is unclear yet how they will be matched by the United Kingdom at a later date. Alex explained that the possibility of London in particular receiving less funding after our departure from the EU is likely, simply because the country will have a “smaller pot of funds”. Could the capital emulate a second Singapore by becoming an independent hub for innovation? Alex believes London will still prosper but not as much as if we had remained part of the European Union. Attendees were interested to know what effect SMEs had had on the Brexit process and Alex outlined that actually small businesses had played a significant role in influencing the government, outlining that they had influenced, what to him was a particular strength of Theresa May’s Brexit deal: the backstop. Other topics discussed, with contributions from the audience, included questions on whether Britain would lose the pound if it were to re-join the EU in the future. Concerning the Brexit situation as a whole, our guest anticipates a general election to follow another extension.