Businesses from across the Three Counties were not just posing Brexit questions at our breakfast session this week – they also had to answer a few, from a straw poll about whether Brexit has had any positive effect for their business to which rights come from the EU and which from the UK.
With six speakers and round table discussions, the breakfast at the Three Counties showground was led by Robert Capper and attended by more than 40 delegates.
Charles Drayson, who admitted to having read the EU withdrawal agreement, was able to give delegates a summary of the main outcomes for businesses in terms of their data protection, depending on the final outcome of the Brexit process.
He was followed by Ruth Sheret, who focused on the regulatory impact of Brexit, stressing that many thousands of EU regulations had already been transposed into UK law – red tape is unlikely to be a thing of the past whatever the political situation.
Daniel De Saulles was brave enough to conduct the straw poll, though he could find no-one in the room who felt that Brexit had had a positive effect on their business. He offered some sound advice on how to protect business operations, with increased due diligence and some specific clauses taking Brexit into account.
The Big Brexit Breakfast
Kristine Scott tested delegates’ knowledge of which rights emanated from the EU and which from the UK – holidays and holiday pay, maternity leave and unfair dismissal kept delegates on their toes. While such rights won’t change immediately, with a general election in the mix, they could change in the medium to long term as part of the normal political process, and TUPE is one potential target for such change.
Skills shortages, such as the 168,000 skilled workers which the CITB says are needed for the construction industry in the next 20 years, were tackled by Jenny Jones. She urged businesses to support and help their existing EU workers to ensure retention, especially with the documents needed to provide residence when pursuing settled status.
Nicolas Groffman gave delegates an insight into how little Brexit means anyone trading beyond the EU and the UK – he stressed that the UK retained major competitive advantages globally and suggested that the main positive effect of Brexit might be said to be the motivation to look beyond the EU for trading partners, suppliers and customers.
Robert said afterwards: “We had some good questions to the speakers, some excellent discussions around our tables and delegates clearly appreciated the chance to get expert advice on their own specific issues.”