By Sean Fleming, editor at eDelivery.net
On 23 June the UK voted to leave the EU – a move that has become known as Brexit.
The referendum campaign was one of the most acrimonious in recent British political history and was marked by the use of misinformation and even lies. From a total population of 65m, around 33.5m cast their vote, and 51.9% of them voted to Leave the EU. A margin of 1.3m over those who voted to remain.
Within just a few hours of the result being declared, the Pound dropped to its lowest level since 1985. There had already been a great deal of turbulence in the markets, with many billions exiting the UK. The uncertainty was not helped when Prime Minister David Cameron resigned later that morning. The ripple effect of all of this has wiped billions off the value of banks across Europe, and further away. Even China, seen by many as a huge economic rock offering stability, expressed its concerns about the damage caused by Brexit.
Closer to home, the streets of Britain have witnessed a 57% increase in racially-motivated hate crimes since the result.
Many in the UK, especially those who voted to remain, are wondering where their country has gone.
For businesses in the logistics community, these are also worrying times. Many were taking advantage of the ability to trade across the EU and grow their businesses. Some are even owned by larger organisations based in other European countries.
Withdrawal from the EU will have one outcome more likely than any other – no longer being able to access the single market. For many pro-Brexit campaigners this is seen as a positive thing. They argue that the UK has been held back by the joint trade deals negotiated by the EU, and that Britain can now make its own trade agreements with any other country in the world. They don’t often talk about the 44% of UK exports that currently go to the EU.
From every angle, losing access to the single market means an increase in costs for everyone, which will be worse if the Pound continues to lose value on the international markets.
For a UK fulfillment business, the EU is close enough that even the smallest, youngest company can have realistic plans to expand into Europe. That’s much harder if you’re thinking about the possibility of trading with China, or the USA, or New Zealand.
Whether the UK will actually withdraw from the EU has yet to be decided. The referendum has no legal standing – it is classed as advisory, not mandatory. The British parliament may decide that the country’s interests will be too greatly damaged by Brexit. Maybe Brexit Lite will be the future – a series of negotiations that keep the UK in the EU but change some of the EU’s working practices.
At the moment, no one knows. And that is perhaps the most damaging thing of all – the uncertainty. The longer that goes on the greater the risks of investment drying up, of businesses collapsing, or even of a brain-drain – where the brightest and best British business brains decide their futures are in other European countries.
Until then, nothing has changed. We must all try to make sense of things and make the best out of a bad situation.