With just one day to go before British voters take one of the biggest political (and arguably economic) decisions of their lives it is amazing just how it has been impacting business in the past few weeks as this historic occasion has neared. Rather like the crescendo of a symphony the closer to the 23rd June we've got, the more decisions have been pushed back and I've seen many examples of businesses battening down the hatches in case the vote is for Brexit. Experiencing this first hand shows that unquestionably the economy has suffered as a result of the impending vote and the data suggests this too. A vote to leave will impact the UK's growth prospects considerably in the very near term and has the potential to do so in the longer term too.
As a firm we represent companies in both the UK and abroad, many of them multinationals and whilst Brexit might mean a lower cost to them for employing our services due to a fall in sterling, it's unlikely to be long before the cost of doing business would increase due to the uncertainty caused and all the renegotiations the UK would have to undertake. Also, from a PR perspective the Brexit ramifications would drown out other newsworthy events, which is another example of the impact the vote is having on business since this is all the media want to talk.
However, it would seem that Brexit risks don't seem to be putting off half the nation and in some cases the majority. This vote is splitting many businesses, communities and families. Whilst meeting some people in the City last week, all of whom represented different sectors from law and broking to public relations and wealth management, I was very much in the minority when asking everyone how they would vote. The City is probably more split than anywhere else and it's little wonder the polls indicate it's too close to call.
But even when outnumbered by some very passionate arguments for leaving the EU I find it hard to believe that five, ten or however many years in the future, we'll either be better off or have as much influence on the world stage that we do today. Another argument that doesn't stack up is that the EU's doomed anyway so we are better off voting to leave now. If that is the case then why risk taking the pain now when if it was to breakup in future, it would likely happen with a large dose of pain killers to soften the blow.
Brexiters are right to point out the pitfalls such as the democratic deficit and bureaucracy, but there's always a price to pay. Surely the opportunities that are presented to us as being part of the EU greatly outweigh the misgivings.
Ultimately, as David Cameron mentioned in his appearance on Question Time on Sunday evening and as English footballers Rooney, Vardy and Sturridge will attest, you cannot win a football match if you are sitting on the bench. A vote to leave the EU would mean we are left permanently on the bench with no influence over the biggest trading block on the planet. There is also the risk that as a result of being outside the EU, other nations will see us the substitute that is unlikely to have an impact on the game and so shouldn't even bother warming up. Being part of the EU means we will always be on the pitch and as one of the most powerful players, shaping the path the game takes.
This article does not contain and should not be construed as containing, investment advice or an investment recommendation or an offer of or solicitation for any transactions in financial instruments. Any opinions made may be personal to the author and may not reflect the opinions of my employer.
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