As we inch closer to Brexit, there is much to consider for the region. It has been a long journey since the referendum in June 2016, when across the North West, 53.7% backed Brexit.
While we may have had over two years to work out what’s in store for the area, there is still a lot of debate raging over everything from the Irish backstop to what happens in the event of no deal. There is a lot at stake for families and businesses across the UK and as we head towards 29 March, it’s time to take a good look at what’s happening on our doorstep right now during this final countdown.
Overall, while over half of the North West opted to leave the EU, voters in the big cities of Manchester and Liverpool were more in favour of the European Union. In total, 60.4% in Manchester and 58.2% in Liverpool voted to remain.
Businesses in the Region
Businesses across the map are trying to plan ahead to what will happen next. With SMEs waiting to see what will happen with trade and EU workers being given the green light to stay in the UK, there are a lot of local businesses in the North West that are uncertain about what’s to come.
Last September three-quarters of manufacturers in the region stated that they were not prepared for a no-deal Brexit. Almost half (49%) said they hadn’t made any plans for a situation where a deal was not on the table.
There is the desire among these North West manufacturers to maintain the current health and safety requirements to be maintained post-Brexit, however. According to a report by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and health and safety experts, Arco, which was released last October, there are calls for existing production and legislative requirements, such as the BSI standards, to continue to be transferred into law.
Reports such as these revealed the current mood among manufacturers in the area.
The ongoing talks about the Irish border are having a major impact on businesses across the map. Once the UK formally leaves the EU in December 2020, there could be an impact on the SMEs in Northern Ireland trading goods and services with Ireland and Britain. This is because both the UK and Ireland are in the EU’s single market and customs union.
While the Irish backstop – the policy that puts trade in Northern Ireland in line with the EU’s customs rules – is still something to keep in mind, businesses in the North West that regularly trade with Ireland and Northern Ireland could come unstuck unless we leave with a deal.
Pro-Brexit businesses in the region see this as an opportunity to trade with growing economies. There is still the belief among many business owners in the region that their companies will flourish when we leave and that alternative trade deals can be agreed.
For those who are uncertain about the future of the economy, however, there are contingency plans being put in place. Loans from companies such as Liberis mean help is at hand should finances become strained when we leave.
Until we know for sure what’s to come, it’s time for businesses to prepare for no deal coming to fruition.