Unless you’ve been living under a rock or else your life involves hours of Jeremy Kyle and Channel 5 ‘reality’ shows that demonise people on benefits (which means your brain has probably be turned into a cabbage like substance), you’re probably aware of the growing movement which wants Britain to leave the European Union.
The term ‘Brexit’ is a Portmanteau of ‘Britain’ and ‘Exit’ and the referendum is set for 23 June. Predictably, both sides of the argument have been leading with scaremongering bullshit with the main goal being to spread fear rather than useful information.
The fact that Boris Johnson, George Osborne and the dastardly duo of George Galloway and Nigel Farage (why does he always look like a puppet from Spitting Image?) all want to leave the EU should be enough reason for sane-minded people to vote Remain. On the other hand, David Cameron wants the UK to Remain so there’s that…
Below, I attempt to sift through the nonsense and offer a look at how small businesses in the UK ‘could’ be impacted by the advent of Brexit. Please note, few of the scenarios outlined are concrete facts with most of them falling in the ‘risk’ category rather than ‘certainty’.
Prior to the recession, it was as easy for small businesses to receive funding as it is to find footage of Piers Morgan acting unbearably smug. In the post-recession era however, it is as hard to get funding as it is to find footage of Jose Mourinho sincerely taking the blame for something going wrong.
If Brexit occurs, UK banks may be even more reluctant to lend to small businesses as a reduction in SME loans would help mitigate against further risk. In other words, it will be easier to find a Scotsman with something positive to say about Margaret Thatcher than to get a small business loan. This would cause a negative impact on economic growth and long-term productivity.
Contrary to the ill-informed garbage spouted by UKIP supporters, the majority of immigrants are not scroungers/criminals/terrorists. There is a litany of literature available which clearly shows immigration provides a net benefit to the UK overall.
Brexit could potentially have dire consequences for the millions of legal immigrants from EU member states who work for UK companies as Britain’s EU membership automatically entitles them to enter the country. Theoretically at least, these individuals would all need to go home unless new legislation is introduced.
Certainly, they would be in the same position that non-EU nationals are currently in; they would be subject to UK immigration law which means paying for visas, a restriction on the number of visas available and confrontations with surly airport officials who think they’re the scum of the Earth. Small businesses dependent on EU immigrant employees could potentially be in real trouble.
There’s a chance Brussels will be pissed off with Brexit to the point where the EU makes an example of Britain by making it hard for UK manufacturing and financial businesses to operate in Europe.
A number of major companies with a significant UK presence have already spoken about moving to other European countries in the event of Brexit. The UK Government would be forced to introduce legislation to help UK businesses retain a competitive advantage; do you trust a Tory government to look after small businesses?
Brexit could be great for employers keen to foist Dickensian work conditions on their staff; not so good if they want happy and productive employees. Since 1997, employment rights in the UK have come on in leaps and bounds as much of the improvement is rooted in EU Legislation.
Again theoretically, Brexit could spell the following:
- No right to a daily rest period (crack that whip).
- No statutory right to paid holiday (Lanzarote? You’re having a laugh).
- No right to take time off work if your child is sick (You need to work to pay for his medicine).
- No laws preventing employers discriminating against disabled workers or staff with certain religious beliefs (UKIP likes this).
- No legal limit on the amount of hours employees must work every week (Boris Johnson likes this).
Admittedly, the current government may decide to retain most of the above rights but then again, this IS a Tory government with the frightening prospect of Boris Johnson as leader. We all know he views the working classes with utter contempt and perhaps the Tories believe their lead over Labour is big enough to risk removing several of the above employment rights.
A few months ago, Brexit seemed extremely unlikely to occur but recent polls show the gap is narrowing to the point where the Remain and Leave scenarios are almost neck and neck. No one knows for sure how leaving the EU would affect small businesses in the UK but most economists believe the outlook would be grim in the long-term.
This video shows Labour and UKIP MPs argue about the pros and cons of Brexit: