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Is a lack of action since Brexit undermining confidence?

Since the announcement on 24 June that the British public had voted for ‘Brexit’ – to leave the European Union – there has been a conspicuous lack of action. While that is, perhaps, good news to those who voted to remain, the apparent inertia is not being received with any great delight by UK universities and the technology sector.

Shortly after the Brexit decision was announced, some UK researchers said they had been asked to step back from existing collaborations and excluded from bids in progress.

While the Treasury has said that universities and researchers will have funds guaranteed, there remains some uncertainty.

Now, according to a report by a London based consultancy, the uncertainty over Brexit is ‘killing’ the UK’s technology industry. Magister Advisors, which specialises in mergers and acquisitions, claims jobs that would have been created in the UK ‘automatically’ are either on hold or have gone elsewhere. Managing director Victor Basta claimed: “The ‘silent killer’ is the uncertainty Brexit now forces fast-growth companies to confront.”

One of the issues is the ability of technology companies to hire the people they need post Brexit. According to Magister, a poll of fast growing UK tech companies found that 30% of their employees come from Europe and 20% from the rest of the world. If they can’t bring the people they need into the UK, the logic suggests, they will move their businesses elsewhere.

“An incalculable number of jobs, and future growth, will have shifted elsewhere in Europe by the time Article 50 is triggered,” Basta suggested. While the ‘tech’ jobs Basta references are likely to be software related, access to talent is an issue that continues to concern electronics industry body NMI. Reacting to Brexit, it pointed to worries about the ability to recruit skilled people and EU wide collaborative funding.

NMI chair Stan Boland believes the UK is ‘the most vibrant startup environment in Europe’. “Let’s push our Government to … ensure this event does not slow down the momentum the UK so clearly has developed.”

Unfortunately, it seems the Government is more interested in delaying the triggering of Article 50 until the last possible moment, then protracting negotiations – actions which appear to conflict with industry’s desires.

Brexit is certainly not the ‘quick and easy job’ that some anticipated.

Author
Graham Pitcher

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