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Woodland Brexit Breakfast

A week on from our Brexit Breakfast, we look back on some of the key questions, answers and highlights from our audience and panel of experts regarding the impact Brexit will have on local businesses – from supply chain and customs to employment law, currency and investments; we had experts ready to answer a breadth of questions.

Below are some key questions asked to our panellists. The entire morning’s discussion can be listened to in our podcast: Here

Key highlights:


Mark Taylor (Britannia Bureau Limited):
Question: Duty changes post Brexit, what’s your view on that?

 Answer: Well, the key is nobody knows. That is the biggest worry. Had we been told 2 years ago that we would be told by the government that we were heading for a no deal Brexit, we would have actually been preparing with plenty of time, but because there was no clear communication, big issues such as duties and free trade agreements are becoming even more of a problem and even now, with 6 months to go until Brexit we know diddly-squat about!

When we leave the EU, question; how valid is the existing free trade agreement between the other 27 member states, because that includes the deal that we put on the table as part of the EU. The point I’m making: If there is a free trade agreement, yes, we can negotiate but in reality, it is a two-way thing, it’s not just having an impact for the UK but also for the EU. If importing from places like China and US, guess what, there are no free trade agreements in there and outside of Europe which are probably our biggest trading grounds. How we are going to move goods in and out of Europe is our biggest question come April fool’s day next year.


Jonathan Insley (TEES):
How is Brexit likely to affect employment law?

In terms of employment law, it’s very straight forward. I admit it is very hard to give definitive answers but we have got the royal ascent in the June bill that says most of the EU law will be converted into UK law, that will retain almost all employment law. So from day 1 next year (after Brexit), you will still have the same position, which should create a lot of legal certainty going forward at least for the short term, longer term, we shall see


Eimear Daly (Global Reach):
Eimear, how many negotiations are likely to proceed over the coming months?

If you look at the EU calendar, we are actually heading into EU parliamentary elections in May, so really campaigning has to start in January, February time, so the EU has got a pretty tight schedule, they have the Italian budget they have sign off and the EU multi-year budget they want to put through before these elections, so from their side they want to get the deal done. We have seen a lot of whispers in the market, so my belief is there is no smoke without fire and the time constraints will really force some kind of agreement.


Alastair Baxter (Natwest)
What sort of sector specific issues do you see emerging from Brexit and when would you expect to see these issues materialise?

There is quite a lot of sector noise coming from the likes of agricultural and manufacturing. You have got to consider the impact of various border checks, taxes, VAT being due upfront could have on their supply chain and their ability to move goods through their supply chain in and out of the country.

But actually, there is probably a broader spectrum that may lay outside our immediate focus, so manufacturing doesn’t actually make up the biggest share of GDP, so if you take a look at some of the old ICI businesses, some of them are very dependent on bringing in human capital, high-skilled labour predominately from the EU. So, actually the sector view is quite varied, if we look at say the top five challenges to overcome, the waiting for each sector would be completely different.  


Ian Jenson-Humphreys (7IM):
How do European governments and businesses feel about Brexit?

I think they feel Brexit is a complete pain in the backside…

There are many other things they would like to be focusing on, you know, the Italian election, future European consolidation, Brexit is an unwanted distraction for most of them.

You have a bit of a push and pull really between the European companies and the centralised European infrastructure.

Take a company like a Daimler, a German company who makes Mercedes, they would love to keep friction astray with the UK. The UK is their third biggest export market after the US and after China, Daimler sell more cars into the UK than they do into France and Italy combined. So, the UK is a big deal. So, they will be very, very keen to have a deal and there are companies all around Europe that feel the same.

The UK is also a very big importer, European companies want to sell us stuff, so a no deal Brexit makes it harder for them to do that.


 Brad Ashton (RSM):
What are the potential implications relating to custom union issues?

I think the fact that before Brexit very few people knew we had a customs union, and certainly that’s become one of the main talking points simply because it has allied the Irish border question, that whatever solution is devised or agreed on or fudged, and I think it is probably more likely to be the latter… for the Irish land border that will have to apply in some shape or form to the agreement with the rest of the EU simply because, from a political perspective, the EU won’t want divergent approaches for one particular member state.

So, the UK leaving the customs union will create significant issues, in relation to absence of an agreement, people trading with the EU will have to make customs declarations full stop, first and foremost that’s the big issue.

Any further questions? We love to hear your thoughts on Brexit and whether you agree or disagree with any of our panellists. Please email us at or respond to our social posts here: Twitter | LinkedIn

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