June 23, 2016, is the day that the UK turned in to Little England (and Wales). Ever since then, we have not stopped talking about Brexit. It is going to be a relentless part of the European conversation for the foreseeable future. As a Remainer, I am still trying to get over the Brexit blues, attempting to identify how the economic downsides can be turned upwards. I am still aghast at how the UK can carelessly throw away its premier FDI position.
Still, it does give the inward investment industry lots to talk about and even more for governments to do. For the Brits, there is the need to ensure that the world knows the UK is still open for business, and that process is already under way. The new London mayor and the new chancellor of the exchequer are busy promoting this message.
As for providing much-needed certainty for businesses, deeds speak louder than words. The governor of the Bank of England is doing a sterling job in trying to keep things steady and the new UK prime minister looks to be focused on getting the best Brexit deal. We need swift clarity on what will be possible on access to the EU single market and other large markets across the world; the hiring of EU citizens; passporting rights for financial services companies; and EU co-funding for scientific research.
It has been interesting to see other European locations take advantage of the situation. Fast movers include Berlin telling London-based tech start-ups to “keep calm and move to Berlin”; Paris, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin are promoting their attractions for financial services and headquarters functions for the EU market; and Estonia is being typically tech-savvy by offering e-residency for British digital entrepreneurs.
For the Brexit Brits, a lot has to be achieved over a short timescale, and if the right deals can be seen to be put in place, perhaps the UK might just be able to maintain its status as the number one location for FDI in Europe.
Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, consultants for economic development innovation. Email: email@example.com