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Brexit mayhem making UK sick

Prime Minister Theresa May shelters from the rain
Prime Minister Theresa May shelters from the rain

Utter exasperation is about the only way I can sum it up.

I have spoken to many businesses in recent months about the merits and demerits of the UK leaving the EU.

Just as in the run-up to the 2014 indy vote, I have come across a reticence to publicly post colours to the mast for fear of upsetting customers of the opposing political persuasion.

But, regardless of Leave or Remain, one thing that is consistent is the desire to see the back of Brexit asap.

They want it off the table and the focus firmly back on trade, investment and the pursuit of growth.

And that’s because the uncertainty swirling around Brexit has eroded confidence to the point that the gears of the economy have started to jam up.

We know an austerity-affected generation want their hard-earned cash to go further and business margins are being squeezed as a result.

But in the last two years Brexit has added a new set of challenges into the mix with no obvious solutions.

How can you plan when you don’t know if the ground you are standing on is firm?

How can you invest in new ventures when you do not know the regulatory regime under which you will be required to operate?

How can you manage workforce expansion when you don’t know if the labour market and skills will be there to support it?

With Brexit, there have always been more questions than answers and, just over 100 days out from Divorce-Day, still nothing is certain.

Even the crash of 2008 – an economic flat-lining from which the UK is still recovering – did not throw up the obstacles Brexit has. That economic revision – as harsh as it undoubtedly was – was part of a cycle.

It had been seen before and companies and government could put forward strategies to mitigate against it.

But Brexit is unprecedented.

And when the UK voted to Leave two years ago I reckon Nostradamus would have struggled to predict the rollercoaster ride we have been on since.

Business was promised strong and stable government during the UK’s orderly departure from the EU.

It was to be given the platform to plot a new and exciting trading future with the world at large.

But it hasn’t had it.

What has been served up instead has been more akin to the Hokey Cokey – there may yet be time to turn around – than a carefully managed parting of the ways.

Business has been left out in the cold in this process and, unsurprisingly, it has started to catch a sniffle. A more certain future is the only tonic that will prevent a full-blown cold and the economic damage that will inflict.

Business needs that medicine now.

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