As talks continue between Theresa May and the EU, the nation has become once again divided. The majority of the leave campaigners will undoubtedly argue that Brexit means Brexit, and no amount of negotiation will change the fact that the UK majority voted to close borders between the UK and the EU. Yet many individuals have raised concerns over the impact on UK businesses if trade deals cannot be established with Europe.
With the Prime Minister recently announcing that the UK needed to be prepared for a “no-deal outcome”, it’s no surprise that May has received backlash from her own Party officials as well as many of the UK electorate for a failure to secure the best deal for Britain. Yet with foreign-owned businesses contributing £333.7bn to the UK economy, and an increase in UK investment since Brexit talks began, it begs the question as to whether a no-deal is really such a bad deal after all.
Since Article 50 was triggered on the 29 March 2017, several discussions regarding Britain’s exit from the EU have taken place in order to reach a mutual and beneficial decision on Britain’s future trade and security. Yet with less than 12 months remaining before Britain’s official exit, talks with the EU have yet to prove fruitful with the nation feeling increasingly impatient over the future of the UK. Businesses are particularly concerned that if the wrong deal is negotiated with the EU, it would prove detrimental to Britain’s trade and economy.
Initial predictions of economic doom, however, proved wrong. Britain’s economy has seen a 1.8% growth since Brexit talks began, which has remained at a steady rate of growth, second only to Germany who are 0.1% ahead. The UK’s unemployment rate has also continued to fall, proving so far that the UK remains top in the world’s leading industrialised nations.
Mining and quarrying still make up a larger proportion of UK foreign-owned businesses, yet our main utilities such as gas and electricity are also owned by a large proportion of foreign companies; just 11.5% of the UK’s power networks are owned by British companies with the majority owned by the likes of Spain, Australia, the US and Hong Kong. Gas distribution is around 23% UK-owned with Canada, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi. In spite of any worry surrounding trade deals with Donald Trump, the US own more UK businesses than any other country. The real crux however, falls on the EU with Germany, France and the Netherlands owning sizeable assets to the tune of 4,500 businesses. Toyota have invested £240m in its Derbyshire plant since Brexit talks began - evidence that the UK remains one of the best places in the world to do business.
The fact remains that foreign-based infrastructure and investment within the UK is vast, and will continue to be post-Brexit. Theresa May has made it clear that Britain will opt out of the customs union, in part due to the demands of open borders as part of the single market with the EU. Out of the 32 current members of the single market: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, as non-EU members, have proved more successful in terms of trade, security and economy, yet have all considered breaking full ties with the EU.
Any such deal Britain makes with the EU will undoubtedly result in a watered-down version of the relationship Britain has had with the EU since it joined in 1973. A no-deal would enable Britain to regain control of its borders, its trade relationships and ultimately its sovereignty; strengthening the UK identity and its position in the world as a pioneer in a Brave New World.