Certainty. Speak to entrepreneurs, and they say we need certainty – Brexit is okay, they can deal with that, providing they know what it means. The latest signs from the government are not so good.
“Entrepreneurs have a funny way of dealing with challenges and overcoming them,” said EJ Packe, Managing Director of The Supper Club, and a judge at this year’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, in a recent interview with Fresh Business Thinking, “but they need to know what the actual challenge is and then they can work with it and plan with it.” And that takes us to Brexit, she said: “we need lines in the sand.”
Ian Merricks, Managing Partner of White Horse Capital and also a judge at this year’s NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, had something similar to say: “We are a resilient nation,” he told Fresh Business Thinking. “For entrepreneurs and investors, their daily job is to deal with challenges and hurdles. Brexit isn’t the issue, uncertainty is.”
You get comments like that from entrepreneurs time and time again, okay, Brexit is happening, you may or may not like it, but it is reality, but please, tell us what that reality is.
The chancellor, Philip Hammond seemed to provide us with exactly that, when he suggested that once the UK has formally left the EU, in just under two years’ time, there would be a two-year transition period, when the UK would be subject to all the rules and conditions of EU membership, just not a member. So, that was clear, we at least had a reasonably good idea of what would happen for the next four years – nothing, removing the need to rush a deal.
And then the government does what it has become so good at doing, and disagrees with itself over Brexit.
The Telegraph quoted Andrew Rosindell, Tory MP for Romford, as saying: "When the British people voted to leave the EU, they voted to end open borders and control who comes into the UK. The British people voted for Brexit and they expect Brexit to happen, in full, on time."
The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, leapt in saying he had “not been party” to any such agreement.
And then Ten Downing Street joined in saying that free movement of labour will end the moment the UK leaves the EU.
And so we go back again, back into uncertainty, back into, well back into who knows what.
This is the precise opposite of what business needs.