Will the technology sector’s Brexit concerns be taken on board?

1 min read

It's a historic week for the UK, with the delivery on Wednesday of the UK Government's official notice that it will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. There will now follow a two year period for negotiating Brexit.

In her January speech, Prime Minister Theresa May outlined a 12 point Brexit plan. Included in that list was an indication that the UK would want to continue its involvement in European research programmes. "We have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation. So we will also welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives," she said.

techUK's CEO Julian David has noted: "With Article 50 being triggered … tech should be a priority in the Brexit negotiations. We'll need continued access to international talent, a watertight agreement on UK-EU data flows and continued support for research and innovation in the UK."

But will such a deal be reached? Members of industry association NMI who responded to a survey after the Prime Minister's speech are not confident. Asked whether they thought the UK's science and innovation would be weakened by 'hard Brexit', 71% said yes. Asked whether they were worried, as a business, about reduced access to collaborative R&D, 67% of respondents said they were. Meanwhile, 74% of respondents said they were worried about lack of access to the European market post Brexit and 65% were worried about access to skilled labour from Europe.

Those negotiating the 'divorce' from Europe will have a lot on their plates, but the concerns expressed by the UK technology sector must be taken on board and represented accordingly.