Don’t talk about BREXIT….talk about BREAL OPPORTUNITY!!!!

As I watch and read the seemingly endless national debate and finger pointing, it occurs to me that there are two very different sides to BREXIT, but maybe not the two that you’re thinking.

Side One – The Circus (There’s no circus without clowns!)

On the one hand, there’s the media circus and consistent finger pointing, not only by the EU to the UK and visa-versa, but also the UK (so called leaders), amongst themselves.

Now I’m not wishing to cast aspersions here, but as a man manager of many years, I’m pretty certain that I would not have employed the Rt. Hon. David Davies to lead the BREXIT negotiations; however, if I wanted a guy to dress as Santa Claus and visit schools shouting HO! HO! HO!, he’s the man!

Horses for Courses?

Dear old Mr Davies, most certainly appears not cut out for such a task, and let’s face it, what a task. Whilst on a much grander scale, it’s akin to implementing a new ERP system in a large business. You know that it’s going to go wrong, you just don’t know yet, how badly. Then even if it is successful, you know that the majority of the users won’t be happy…..Good luck Mr Davies.

I was equally amazed as I was disappointed to see that Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England) no less had waded into the BREXIT cacophony with the comment:

‘Britain would be booming if it wasn’t for BREXIT’.

Now I have long been an admirer of Mr Carney, but really! How could he possibly know that? Further how does it help anyone’s cause by pointing it out? He went on to mention that companies weren’t investing as they should because of BREXIT, that they were all waiting…..waiting for what exactly? We are leaving! As far as I can see (being a simple Welshman), the only moving parts are the cost, immigration and that of Citizen’s rights. The cost, in the great scheme of things is irrelevant. Citizen’s rights, well that’s just plain common sense, EU and UK citizens must keep the same rights, either side of the fence and finally immigration, no matter how many British Governments have made immigration management a headline in their manifesto, none have delivered meaningful results, so what have we to lose there.

And let’s not forget the EU citizens and companies don’t want anything to change either. They still want to sell their goods to the UK unburdened by bureaucracy or duties. I wonder how many BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Fiat, Renault, Bosch items are sold to UK customers every year

Side Two – Doing the Doing (Taking ownership for our decision, today…YES, NOW!)

So, here’s the most important part, in my opinion. The role of the SME (Small/Medium Enterprise).

Absolutely none of the people or politicians or even Santa Claus mentioned in Side One can make any difference to the outcome of BREXIT in the long term. They are all but voices, many of whom, by the time BREXIT has played out will be long forgotten, or at least I hope so.

The people that can turn BREXIT into BREAL OPPORTUNITY is us, namely SME’s.

  • Did you know that at the end of 2016 there were 5.5 million businesses in the private sector in the UK.
  • SME’s (businesses with less than 250 employees), account for a staggering 99.3% of this number, in every main industry sector.
  • SME’s have a total annual turnover of £1.8 trillion per year, 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK.
  • SME’s have increased in numbers by 59% since 2000 and 2% since 2015.
  • SME’s employ 15.7 million people in the UK, 60% of all private sector employment.

(Stats courtesy of the House of Commons Library, Business Statistics Briefing Paper, No 06152, 23rd November 2016)

SME’s are the engine that can make a real difference, the difference between BREXIT & BREAL OPPORTUNITY. But they have to be supported.

So it’s high time to get on with it.

For better or worse we’ve chosen to leave the EU. For the first time in more than 44 years we will be on our own. The last time we were was 31st December 1972.

We must consider ourselves above others and in all things, put our own economy first. When I talk about ‘economy’ I don’t just mean some ‘in the cloud’ figure calculated by faceless bureaucrats or Bank of England Governors, I mean our own well-being and the well-being of our communities and country. These communities that we live in, that are essential to us, will be affected by the actual choices that we, as senior managers & decision makers action on a daily basis. Just take a minute for that last sentence to sink in.

Our job market will become far more important to us than it already is today, if that’s even possible.

I’m embarrassed to be old enough to remember the widely used phrase ‘Buy British’ which has been used in marketing campaigns at various times by companies & UK Government organisations, but it really does come down to the fact that if we are to prosper, or taking a slightly dimmer view, survive; then as a nation we need to get off our backsides now and consider our purchasing & business choices carefully. Whether you work in or own a UK owned company, if you’re buying from abroad, investing abroad, moving a UK business abroad, then you are giving away an extremely valuable part of our essential ‘sustenance’ to another country.

There are many products of course that can’t currently be supplied from the UK, and for those items, clearly you have little choice. But really there’s no excuse for not ‘Buying British, if you can.

And that, in my humble Welsh opinion is the BREAL OPPORTUNITY. Take a minute to look around you. If we all continue to buy and therefore invest in countries other than our own, when there’s a local alternative, our very BREAL OPPORTUNITY may be dead in the water.

I challenge every one of you to question your thinking when it comes to your purchasing or even your investment options for the long term. Look local and we as a country, will see the benefits of BREXIT in the long term. If we don’t we run the risk of becoming an ‘empty vessel’. Yes, the ones that make a lot of noise, (as we continue to trade on the laurels of our once great ‘empire’) but, are quite hollow really.

Brighton Sheet Metal is a plucky little British SME. We are intent on doing our part for the BREAL OPPORTUNITY. We export products to the USA, Germany, Czech Republic and the Netherlands; this will continue long after BREXIT.

Brighton Sheet Metal was born in 1911. It has survived two world wars (although the next one could be trickier), and countless other world changing events.

100% of our purchasing is from UK companies, even the products that we purchase, originating from other countries are bought through UK distribution companies. Yes, we look to drive cost out of our business and we are being successful using methods of continuous improvement and working with our suppliers. No, we will not accept that buying locally costs us more. We value the community around us.

So, come on Mr Davies, do whatever it is you need to do and get off our TV screens. The business community is fed up of the inane rhetoric and posturing. While you’re part of the circus, we’ll just get this show on the road and start delivering the country from what has probably been the biggest single mistake of many generations. That of wilfully leaving the largest free trade single market in the world namely the EU.

If the UK business community out there doesn’t wake up and refocus our purchasing to the country that matters most, then who knows what happens next.

Mark Williams


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