The latest poll from YouGov suggests that many of the people who voted to Leave the EU are not concerned if our departure has a damaging impact on the UK economy. I hope that the poll is wrong, and I hope that the occurrence is unlikely. However early indications amongst the businesses I work with are that our departure will have a substantial negative impact in the short term. The latest comments from an interview with Donald Trump as published in the New Statesman suggest that he is not at all focused on establishing a trade deal with the UK, that his objective for such a deal would be to ensure that US businesses have unfettered access to our markets, but in any case the trade deal would need to go through Congress. This along with our restrictions on establishing such a deal with nations outside the EU until after we have left is a great concern for businesses such as the one I am part of. We import US products acting as the UK distributor, and we also source a great deal of the products we install via the EU which includes some of the US products which are a mainstream range for our clients. Some of the people I have connected with on social media argue that this will incentivise UK manufacturers to produce products for our market. The reality is that our business relies on using goods that we can be sure of in terms of their reputation and credibility. Even the goods we use have their weaknesses, but installing hardware into homes, churches and educational settings makes failures something that cost us dearly and so we are very cautious before we will take on a new product range. Our business is not large and even our industry would count very little in terms of its loss to the economy, but if schools and university teaching spaces were denied access to reliable sound and visual systems, if concerts and live events were cancelled due to the unreliability of equipment, and if training for operations and other medical procedures was curtailed, the impact on society would go far deeper than a significantly damaged economy. If our access to the equipment we supply became dependent on our willingness to import chlorinated chicken, then our national sovereignty begins to look a bit less credible.
Apparently the bar chart above becomes even more skewed in favour of a damaged economy if those questioned are limited to people above working age, the percentage willing to tolerate a significantly damaged economy becomes 71%. A great deal of our work in care homes, places of worship and community centres has an impact on people of that age. Let us hope they are willing to stand up and take responsibility for their views if they can’t hear the sound or see the images as they expect to!