Brexit – time for business to get off the fence

The former Foreign Secretary is well known for a certain style of buffoonery. A few weeks back, when informed of the increasing concerns of business about Brexit, he is reported to have simply responded ‘f**k business.’

This may, of course, have been another rent-a-quote, headline-grabbing moment from Boris Johnson. However, I fear it is symptomatic of a deeper malaise within the UK Parliament and the political system.

The month of June past saw British-based CEOs of Nissan, Siemens, Airbus, BMW and many other large UK employers all step forward and break their silence on this matter. These companies spelled out some detailed consequences – clearly and factually – relating to the current Brexit muddle. None of it was good news.

It is now high time for all UK businesses, including our own packaging sector, to step up the volume and make these economic facts of life even clearer and louder to our political representatives. It especially behoves our SME sector to articulate its fears and increased burdens at this time. Large employers most likely have relocation contingencies in place throughout the world. Our indigenous smaller companies have no such luxury between them and the wall.

Make no mistake; the costs of the Brexit vote are already piling up at the door of the wealth-generating hub of the nation; the part that pays for everything else. These costs, no doubt about it, will be catastrophic in the event of a no deal hard Brexit.

In addition, the packaging sector has to periodically contend with other kinds of political and economic ignorance, such as that shown last month by the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee who attacked our own PRN system and said that the system ‘should make producers pay to recycle their packaging…’

Their? The last time I looked, said packaging was in the hands of its owners – the consumers. Consumers are the engine and the cause and reason for business and growth – at least in free market societies.

However, the idea that consumersshould pay and be held responsible for their actions has yet to get any modern-day politician elected. And so the ignorance continues.

Ineffectual political systems and interests – in the EU and UK combined – have made an unholy mess of these issues and of the Brexit matter over the past two years.

In the hope that it’s not too late, businesses must now find their voices and must strongly lobby their MPs to put an end to the nonsense and to find a way through for all of us. There is much too much at stake to remain silent.

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