The future of UK business in post-Brexit Britain has certainly been unclear, and just when it appeared the waters were beginning to calm, the result of the UK General Election has once again thrown everything up into the air. While nothing is for certain, however, there is cause for optimism for UK business.
Business in the UK is highly regarded and widely respected across the globe. London, in particular, is an international centre of finance and business and, while certain results of the Brexit negotiations could make business in the UK more difficult or less appealing, it is unlikely that this reputation is going to just disappear overnight.
There is certainly vast determination to keep London as an economic centre of the world. Many of Britain’s financiers are confident that they will keep as much of their operations as possible within the UK. It appears that the fear of a rush to leave London for the likes of Paris, New York, Frankfurt and Hong Kong is, at least for now, misplaced. While the industry is rightly considering all of its options, it is only after the negotiations are completed that we will know exactly where such business is heading. For the moment, however, it appears that there is no suitable alternative to London.
Before the Brexit result, the UK was also considered one of the best countries to start a business in. The majority of businesses in the UK are small to medium enterprises and, as these companies are also the primary employers of people within the UK, how the Brexit negotiations impact these companies will arguably determine the success of the UK economy post-Brexit. It has already been revealed that since the Brexit vote, many UK job seekers are looking abroad and depending on how the Brexit negotiations address immigration, there may well be a huge gap in the UK between the demand and supply of skilled workers. With roughly 2.1 million European immigrants working in the UK in engineering, IT, construction and healthcare, among other key industries, companies that depend on this skilled immigrant labour could find themselves in difficulty.
Yet uncertainty in UK business has been further increased by the result of the UK General Election, which has seen the Conservative Party lose their majority in a hung parliament. With the impending Brexit negotiations, the outcome for business in the UK is arguably even more uncertain than it was when the Brexit referendum result itself was announced in 2016. Many business owners have urged the government to establish the UK economy as its priority to reduce this uncertainty, and keep in mind that it has never been important to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit British economy that works across all regions for all businesses. Provided the British government can maintain an open, pro-enterprise mind-set, achieving such a Brexit deal should be possible.
Until the Brexit negotiations are completed, it is very difficult to tell whether UK business will move elsewhere. There is certainly the possibility that international businesses and financial operations might look to other business centres in Europe or elsewhere in the world. The result of the UK general election has certainly increased instability, if only temporarily, but hopefully the government will be able to place to UK economy at the forefront of its priorities in negotiating a Brexit deal that suits all UK business, in all regions.