Simon Wright, MD at Greenwich Design, says it’s time for the debate to get real
With the Brexit and Remain campaigns in full swing and the referendum fast approaching, I’m keen to understand the effect Brexit will have on us, as a small to medium sized enterprise (SME). Although we’re a family-owned business based in London, most of our work is with global organisations so I’ve found myself wondering how a departure from the EU would affect our clients.
Trying to separate the true facts from the political posturing is near impossible with the two sides of the referendum suggesting what ‘might happen’ to businesses and trade as a result of Brexit, but both have a vested interest in their own point of view. However, rather unhelpfully, there is a distinct lack of independent information and guidance for business owners on the subject. I thought it was just me but then I heard a discussion on Radio 4’s ‘The Today’ programme acknowledging that, although Brexit has been given a great deal of political airtime, the government hasn’t tried to explain the effect it will have on businesses or consumers with any levels of balance.
I read an article last week citing a recent report by Smith and Willamson Enterprise Index which suggested that 81% of their respondents, SME owners, thought that leaving the European Union would negatively affect their business. However, a poll by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in April showed that the number of business leaders who would vote to remain had dropped from 60% to 54%, with the proportion voting to leave shifting from 30% to 37% since a similar poll in February. So, while the majority of businesses back staying part of the European Union, it seems that the tide has started to turn - but is it likely to build to a point where the overwhelming business thinking is that Brexit is better?
I suspect not as there are obviously concerns around what Brexit would mean for the British economy, and the loss of benefits businesses currently get from the EU’s single market trade agreement. To leave potentially feels like a leap in the dark when we don’t have anyone providing genuine impartiality and advice about what it all means.
From a personal point of view, though, it feels like Brexit could be a brave and exciting decision. A way to invigorate British industry – particularly in the world of design - and continue the success we have seen in recent years. For us, I don’t think the changes would be too dramatic in the short term; however, if the majority of our clients were Europe-based I think I would be slightly more worried.
With the date now set for 23rd June, it’s time for the debate to get real. What’s needed is an independent viewpoint providing the facts on the risks, potential hazards, advantages and disadvantages of both sides of the argument, so that business owners can begin to make informed decisions around planning for the future, unmarred by political egos.