The political posturing continues, although as the video suggests, most of us hope for greater focus on solutions.
Two national newspapers interviewing business owners on Brexit recently recorded similar comments “We’ve been sold a dud.” and “We’ve been sold a pup.” Evident co-thinking, on a topic which is not going away.
The Covid-19 pandemic has rightly occupied the news this year, keeping quiet stories of falling exports to Europe. Neither is this simply because of the pandemic, or a reduction in travel, as
some have suggested.
A substantial drop in trade seen in January may have eased and large companies continue to work on solutions, such as a European base. For smaller business however, this is not viable and they are being obliged to think laterally.
A Federation of Small Businesses survey found that 25% of exporters had temporarily, or permanently ceased trade with the EU, with a further 10% considering the same. With smaller business making up 30% of exports to the EU, not good for the economy.
Government revenue ultimately depends on business confidence, which is part of the current problem. New regulations and paperwork add to the depression, as do serious delays and the associated cost of all three.
In the end, the new tends to become the normal but this happens faster with a will to succeed and good support. Government statements that the situation is manageable are not sufficient, neither are current initiatives.
Small business owners are focused on their business, their skills, unable to find time for steep learning curves, or complete repositioning. Online Brexit step guides, or webinars are not sufficient to help.
There are in fairness limited grants and support from local business organisations but far more practical penetration is needed, along with the right message.
Statements that we are signing up for a great new market opportunity in the Far East are all very well but what happened to “Our strong European partnership will remain.” This focus and belief need reinvigorating.
Whatever the long term hopes, the EU is our largest trading partner and should logically remain so. Deliveries that used to take days can now take a month, regulation glitches, or unsustainable costs are unviable.
Practical changes require thought and will help but rather than even considering point scoring, our relationship with the EU needs rethinking. We may be out in a legal sense but there is still a marriage of reality which needs work.
Every time a politician is seen on screen, they should be promoting a success with European partners, not trying to please their own right wing. We either find a new way to be valuable partners with the EU, or face an existential threat.
The stance has to filter down to smaller business owners in a way which makes them believe again, that exports to the EU are worth the effort. This is the truth, which just needs backing up with practical and emotional action.
We know the will survives, from the amount of EU ATA carnets our team have recently issued. Our leaders need to help to turn that will into certainty.