Brexit is happening on Friday, but it’ll do little to end the uncertainty for businesses.
While the UK is leaving the European Union at midnight CET, it will only be into an 11-month transition period where little will change for commerce.
The transition is designed to give London and Brussels time to negotiate their future trading relationship, including what tariffs — if any — businesses will have to pay to export their goods to the EU or vice versa.
‘We have another year of uncertainty’
Charlie Tait and his wife opened photographic services company Poto Studios in Liverpool — a city in north-west England — a decade ago.
He told Euronews that Brexit uncertainty had meant his expansion plans had stalled and that he feared more of the same.
Liverpool fell into decline at the end of the 20th century, but, over the past two decades, it’s managed a significant turnaround. A big turning point came in 2008 when it was named European Capital of Culture, sparking a boom in its international reputation. Formerly disused warehouses are now being used by new creative businesses, which are a key sector in the UK’s economy. One of those businesses is Poto Studios.
“I know going forward we’re still going to try to grow but we’re facing a lot more challenges than we would of otherwise,” Tait said.
“Everybody carries on and tries to achieve everything they can but the environment we’re in now is so much more difficult than the environment we were in previously.
“Now, as outcomes become more certain, hopefully that will change but as I look ahead at the moment we’ve got another year of uncertainty, we’re going to go through the same sequence of events we’ve probably been through the last year.
“Now we go into trade deals and possible cliff edges around trade deals and we’ll see the same response from consumers who will be based on their level of worry choosing how much they do or don’t spend.”
‘We didn’t spend the last three years procrastinating’
But not all businesses have found Brexit uncertainty a problem.
On the outskirts of London, Brompton Bicycle opened their factory in 2016. They make folding bikes, ideal for commuting and in demand from people in more and more cities around the world. This business has grown despite the Brexit turmoil and CEO Will Butler-Adams is feeling optimistic about the future.
“Nothing changes and it hasn’t been so tough, we’ve doubled the size of our business over the last three years because we didn’t spend the last three years procrastinating about you know the millionth iteration of Brexit,” Butler-Adams said.
“That doesn’t mean Brexit isn’t relevant. It is relevant but it’s not the most important and when we know, who knows when that will be, depending on who you listen to, what the tariffs are. As soon as we know that we’ll be on it. But, until that point, we’re not going to waste our time worrying about what may or may not occur.”