The impact of Brexit on your business

Have you done more assessing than our Brexit minister David Davis?

When is an impact assessment not an impact assessment? When it’s a sectoral analysis of course!!

In the run up to the festive season one would imagine that most SME owners are looking forward to a couple of weeks where they don’t have to try and decipher the rather confusing soundbites uttered by our Minister for Exiting the EU.

Semantics seem to be de rigueur for our chief negotiator however it’s not always helpful if you are hoping for some pointers in order to make sensible and vital business decisions.

You say tomato..

To most people, the only difference between assessing the impact of Brexit on different economic situations and a sectorial analysis of Brexit consequences is the wording on the front sheet of a report.

However, typical of the pantomime that Brexit negotiations have become, it took a Commons debate, a vote, a panic stricken rummage around to fill a couple of ring binders with at least something, culminating in a couple of hours of Select Committee grilling to find out that they are apparently completely different. And what’s more, they’re all useless anyway because forecasts are always wrong!

Similarly, when discussing the conclusion of phase one of the talks with Andrew Marr, Mr Davis suggested the Irish border promise was more of a “statement of intent” than anything legally binding. 24 hours later, after that comment had caused more than a few coughs on the Emerald Isle, this very statement of intent miraculously became way beyond legally binding.

Dot, dot, dot…..etc.

So, where are we? Well unless you possess the code breaking brain capacity of Alan Turing it’s unlikely you will have gained much of a steer from the Brexit team in the months since June 2016.

Basically SME owners are on their own to undertake an audit on how Brexit will affect their business and should be asking themselves some serious questions. And it’s not just exposure within Europe that needs considering – membership of the EU currently gives UK businesses preferential market access to over 50 countries outside of the EU.

Does the business import/export perishables that might be queueing for days on a slip road? Is there any exposure to sharp currency fluctuations? How reliant is the business on short term seasonal migrant workers? How might possible tariff changes affect finances?

These are just a few of the unknowns facing businesses. However, typical of this Brexit of soundbites and despite the current government spin about the likely outcome, there is one thing we can all be very sure of (and we’re going to be reminded of it every day of the week until March 2019)……..nothing is agreed until everything is agreed!

I think we can all agree on that, can’t we?

By Steve Leeves