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Brexit: Government has listened to business

As David Davis walked away from the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal this week and Boris Johnson followed him soon afterwards, it appears the Government’s position is untenable. Or is it?

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David Davis has walked away from the Brexit deal created by the Government

The Prime Minister Theresa May has taken a more pragmatic approach with her Common Rule Book plan and although it is seen as a soft Brexit it is much more the businesses’ liking.

The former Brexit Secretary believes the deal proposed will add costs to business as well as paperwork compared to a harder Brexit deal, where Britain is not subject to the EU’s rules and regulations. However, some believe the deal proposed is the result of business and industry reminding the Government that a no deal Brexit could result in economic disaster and have lobbied for a smoother transition.  It appears they have got their way and it is possible if Brexit goes ahead on March 29, 2019, we may not even notice any change.

The CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn says: “Business will welcome the fact the Government has reached agreement. This is a genuine confidence boost and the Prime Minister deserves credit for delivering a unified approach. Initial signs suggest the proposal is based on the evidence firms have provided on the impact on jobs and living standards. That is good news – particularly the free trade area for goods, which the CBI and its members have long called for.”

Michael Moradian of Print Express in London also sounds a pragmatic tone and he has some advice for the Government’s negotiating team

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “One in five of our smaller business employers have at least one EU worker so it’s absolutely essential they have the choice of applying for ‘settled status’ as soon as possible.  We welcome progress on the scheme made today.”

And the British Chamber of Commerce adds: “The leading business organisation is calling on the UK government to draw a line under internal political debate and deliver urgent clarity on the practical, detailed issues that underpin trade – or face a continued deterioration in investment intentions and confidence as the clock ticks down to the October deadline to complete the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement.”

Since it now looks as though Theresa May will remain in office until Brexit, Sidney Bobb of the British Association for Print & Communication (BAPC) says the industry must accept the situation and prepare for ?the inevitable. His main concern is increases to costs that will put pressure on profit margins and feels printers must pass these on rather than take money off the bottom line. He says: “Our members’ biggest concern is that there will be an increase in prices when Brexit happens. Paper, ink, presses, finishing equipment and almost everything as so much of what the industry needs is imported. We have to face those increases but what we mustn’t do is to absorb them. As an industry we must increase our prices to maintain profits. When fuel goes up, when printing plates go up in price and paper as well printers are reluctant to increase their prices. Other industries pass on these costs to their customers and we must do the same.”

The counter argument made by many in the industry is that if they do, they will lose business to cheaper printers that are prepared to lose money on some jobs to gain new customers. Bobb warns this race to the bottom only ends badly. He also says the BAPC expects Brexit to introduce new regulations which will impact printers. He comments: “There’s always new legislation and it will happen, and it will cost more. All changes increase costs.”
For the wide format print and sign-making industry, David Catanach, director of the British Sign and Graphics Association says: “Our position is that whatever the outcome of Brexit, the BSGA will work hard to ensure that all sign-makers meet and adhere to standards and legislation regarding the fabrication, installation and maintenance/inspection of signs in the UK. We will continue to act to ensure that the market that sign-makers work in is a level playing field across the UK in terms of education, quality, standards and legislation.”

Michael Moradian of Print Express in London also sounds a pragmatic tone and he has some advice for the Government’s negotiating team headed by the newly promoted Dominic Raab. He told this publication that David Davis quit as he felt his hands were tied and it was not a deal he could accept. Moradian comments: “We are the second highest net contributors behind Germany; we consume more goods from Europe than the other way around; More jobs are at stake in Europe than here; The UK has 16 percent of the population of the EU. No EU company can afford to allow 16 percent of its consumers to disappear from its home market. There are significant risks for the EU as well as the UK. It is time the EU negotiators recognize that.

“Our strongest card is simply to say – if you want our support (£) and our custom (goods) – let us strike a fair deal – allow us to trade freely with the EU without barriers and with the rest of the world, not be subject to the EU courts or we go our own way. I am certain that this will bring a more realistic response from the 27 governments – who will put pressure on the Commission to be less bureaucratic and dogmatic and more realistic.”

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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