January 3, 2019
by Tim Prater

Planning For The End Of The World

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887. Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov [Public domain]

An email arrives from our local (Folkestone and Hythe) District Council:

Dear local business

The district council has been asked by the Government to provide intelligence from our business community on the impact of a potential “No deal” Brexit.

The questions that Government is requesting information on are set out below. I would therefore welcome your responses to these and also to hear back from any business that have no concerns and are not undertaking any measures.

Any information provided could be relayed anonymously or your business mentioned specifically.

  1. How do you think the UK leaving the EU is going to impact your business/organisation? Will this be a positive or negative impact?
  2. What are your top five priorities regarding your business right now?
  3. Do you have any concerns regarding the UK leaving the EU in relation to your business operations? If so, what are these?
  4. Are you undertaking any activities to prepare your business for Brexit? If so, what are these? If not, please explain why?
  5. What are the upcoming issues/challenges your business is facing (i.e. looking to the short, medium and long term)?
  6. What are the barriers/ blockers to progress faced by your business/organisation right now?
  7. Where would you look for business advice regarding the UK leaving the EU?
  8. Through what avenues/ in what formats would you find advice regarding Brexit most useful? (e.g. tools, questionnaires, articles, videos, telephone hotline, face-to-face help etc.)

Government has asked for a response to these questions asap, so if you could get back to me by 5pm Monday 7th January that would be helpful. However, we anticipate that there will be a rolling programme for seeking this information, so if you cannot make this deadline, or want to consider matters further before responding, please send your response in due  course.

We will also be discussing this at the  Folkestone & Hythe Business Advisory Board which next meets 8-10am Thursday 28th February at the Burlington Hotel, Earls Avenue, Folkestone, so please let me know if you would like to attend.

The government’s official Brexit “no deal” advice to businesses can be found at the below link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Given that the Government is in charge of Brexit and seems to have the slimmest possible grip on what to do in the event of a No Deal Brexit (aside from putting troops on the street, and paying non-existent Ferry companies millions to not run services) then asking what Local Businesses plan to do in the event that every trade agreement this country owns terminates in three months seems a little optimistic.

We own our own servers/ infrastructure, and its hosted in the UK, and the huge majority of our clients and suppliers are British. Our staff work either from home or from within cycling distance of it. Our office is our own, and will open on 30 March. That’s the good news: we’re as well protected as most, much better than many.

However, we are based in the East of Kent. If the entire East of Kent becomes the largest lorry park in the world – the area will gridlock (as it has on the many occasions ports or tunnel has closed in the past – the plans now in place will do NOTHING that alleviates that) and supplies will therefore find it hard to get to shops. That is OK for a couple of days, but will get quite tense-making after more than that – not particularly for our company, but for our staff who do enjoy eating). Given that there are also serious concerns about electricity supplies (we currently import a fair amount via the various interconnects into the country) then power shortages would also not be a good look for a website business.

So, “Do you have any concerns regarding the UK leaving the EU in relation to your business operations?”. Yes. Aside from the geopolitical impact (aside!), we’d like some promises that we’ll be able to get around the area, that shops will remain well stocked with food we can afford, and the power will stay on. Without guarantees of at least that, a No Deal Brexit is not a route any sane Government, or its people, should take.