Business wants certainty – even a three-month Brexit delay prolongs the agony of indecision

Business wants certainty – even a three-month Brexit delay prolongs the agony of indecision

Talk to anyone in business, Leaver or Remainer, and they will say that they want the Government to get on with it.

In fact, that’s true of anyone you speak to, in business or not. Just get on with it.

That’s what the Prime Minister used to say. At the National Conservative Convention in Oxford at the end of February, she made much of the feeling in the country by telling the assembled throng that the thing that most people say is “Just get on with it. She got a big cheer and a standing ovation.

And last night, she said it again. “The public want us to just get on with it”. Having earlier that day asked for an extension and decided not to get on with it. Obviously.

Business is buoyant (despite Brexit, of course). But at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes last week, where thousands of the property industry gather, the mood was optimistic yet sombre. Optimistic – because business would know where they would be by the end of month; but sombre – because the past two months have been slow as people have put off decisions until the end of March.

The rational question has been: “Why invest now if in a month’s time everything changes? What happens if the pound falls, or rises – I would look pretty silly, and I could lose my job.”

Whilst we remain in the epicentre of uncertainty, why would corporates make any investment decision at the moment?

So for business, they either want a long Article 50 extension, which means they can get on with the job of earning money (although obviously a long extension or no Brexit would be catastrophic for the Tory Party); or to leave, so they can get on with the job of earning money.

What the Prime Minister wants now, an extension until the end of June, is the worst of all worlds as it just prolongs the agony of indecision.

Business is ready to leave on 29th March 2019. Talk to people in the pharmaceuticals industry, and they will tell you that there has been so much information that any business in that industry cannot have failed to prepare. And we all know that Matt Hancock has been the largest buyer of fridges.

Talk to people in the banks and the City. They’ve been preparing for over a year now and they will be ready.

Talk to people in small business. They will tell you that MTD (Making Tax Digital) is far more onerous than Brexit.

And the smart ones in the service industry, from corporate lawyers to PR companies, should be cracking open the Champagne, with their training seminars on how to make your business WTO compliant.

Business has seen the tariff schedules. They’ve made the investment. They’ve put in the hours.

Now please, Prime Minister. Please leave, as you said you would 108 times, on 29th March 2019.

Business will cope. Nay, business will thrive.