The UK is leaving the EU… What Now?
The dust is finally beginning to settle as the realisation that the UK public voted to leave the European Union sinks in.
The response in the media was one of panic; sterling plummeted and the markets took a hit. But now the shock has subsided (slightly) and we are left with a country in need of firm leadership, a strong plan of action, and keen negotiation skills.
As business owners, we have a responsibility to set an example to our employees, peers and customers if we are to ride this storm and regain economic stability. In order to do this, we must make a conscious effort to understand what the future holds, seeking advice and opinion from a range of sources, not just those shouting at us in big letters from the newsstand.
At Love Energy Savings we want to help you and your business in every way possible, not only by giving you an awesome deal on your energy bills, but also by keeping you informed of issues that matter to you.
So… what happens next?
What is 'Article 50'?
You may have seen a lot of noise being made in the media about a clause called ‘Article 50’ which states that, when a member state decides to withdraw from the European Union, it must do so by notifying the European council of its intention.
Once this desire to leave has been announced, the member state in question then has two years to negotiate terms of withdrawal.
The reluctance of the UK government to invoke Article 50 is due to the fact that it is a one-way street, with a two-year timescale attached. During these two years, the UK would still be subject to EU laws but we would not be able to take part in any EU discussions surrounding our withdrawal meaning that the eventual outcome may fall short of our expectations.
With no UK vote, there is a very real possibility that a protectionist attitude may dominate, which would involve restraints being placed on the UK’s trade with other countries. This could affect the possibility of us agreeing a new trade agreement, such as those currently enjoyed in Norway and Sweden.
What are the options?
Now the UK has voted to leave, we find ourselves in a position where the EU status quo is no longer politically justifiable, so what are the options?
1) We trigger Article 50 and work to become an independent trading nation
2) We trigger Article 50 and work with the EU to negotiate a trade scheme which will most probably also include free-movement and migratory requirements (an issue which many people voted 'Leave' to avoid)
3) The EU itself recognises a need for reform and begins a complex transformation which may trigger another vote once the changes have taken place, giving us the choice to remain or leave a reformed European Union
4) We negotiate a new relationship within the EU before triggering Article 50, possibly reaching an agreement and therefore negative the need to leave
5) Article 50 is never triggered and we remain part of the EU potentially resulting in democratic chaos and a loss of faith in our political system
The uncertainty surrounding the form these negotiations will take has resulted in a stalling of proceedings. It was initially expected that a vote to leave would immediately trigger Article 50, but this has not been the case. The fear of losing control over our own fate and missing out on potential trading agreements has resulted in a lacklustre response, leading many to wonder if we will actually go.
Not leaving, as mentioned above, could lead to political chaos. Many people could lose faith in our democracy, causing an even greater rift between the electorate and the elected.
Who will lead us?
So who will lead us in this complex task of disentangling ourselves from the European web?
Within a week of the results being announced David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Michael Farage all jumped ship and Corbyn’s reputation in the Labour party took a nose-dive, further adding to the turmoil.
Whoever takes up residence in Number 10 will have a huge challenge ahead of them to solve the problems that lie ahead. At the time of writing, the race for leader of the Conservative party, and therefore our next Prime Minister, has taken a dramatic turn.
Theresa May, a strong 'Remainer' was head-to-head with Andrea Leadsom until around midday on July 11th, when Leadsom pulled out of the race, leaving the way clear for her only opponent.
Looking to the left, the next leader of the opposition is even more uncertain. Whoever takes on the challenge must be prepared for two years of challenge and discontent; it won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination.
What will this mean for your business?
At the end of the day, whatever happens in Brussels or inside Downing Street is beyond our control. As business owners we must “Keep Calm and Carry On”; continuing to serve our customers, look after our employees and conduct business as usual, as much as we can.
There may be changes that directly affect you, especially if you work in a sector which relies heavily on European trade, or one which is subject to a lot of EU regulation, but the key to success will be learning to adapt to these changes, planning for every eventuality and cutting costs where possible.
On average, we save our customers 40% on their business energy bills and, when times get tough, that saving may just be what tides your business over.
To see how much you could save, head over to our comparison engine here or give one of our friendly and expert team a call on 0800 9888 375.