…was it anything to do with the fact that London is the gateway for global firms to access the biggest market in the world?
In addition, for the last 30 years, Britain has been the most open commercial country on earth outside of financial services too.
Closing the EU Gate
Partly by design but partly through accident, the UK government created the most investable market for international firms. It never stood in the way when companies looked to acquire our great institutions and essential infrastructure. And they all flocked here, because of our access to the EU.
Combined with our robust commercial and property laws, we had the perfect platform for this country to receive investment and sit at the top international commerce table. We all benefited, the country grew, and it was mainly because we were a member of the EU.
The foreign direct investment we received put us 2nd globally behind the US. Figures released by the OECD last Friday showed inward investment into Britain slumped by $181bn over the previous year; outward investment has boomed by $120bn. This is one of the biggest one-year turnarounds by any country ever recorded.
Centre of the Greatest Free Trade Area Globally
We were absolutely at the centre of the greatest free trade area in the world. Twenty-seven member states, another 31 countries with free trade agreements and another 30 countries with provisional deals about to be done.
No problem, though. I heard our esteemed foreign secretary Boris Johnson on the radio a few weeks ago talking with great positivity about the trade deals we can strike with the Commonwealth after Brexit. There are some exciting fast-growing economies in that area, but nothing has stopped us selling to them previously.
I keep hearing from Brexiteers that after we leave the EU ‘, we will be free to negotiate our own trade deals’ as if somehow being in the EU has stopped us selling to the rest of the world. Who is Germany’s single biggest export market? China.
Our GDP figures for Q1 showed that we grew at the slowest rate for five years. I can’t find any good news at present. In my market, I know that London fintech firms are struggling to find staff as Europeans leave. In the last three months for the first time in 7 years, we have hit our monthly caps for international visas, meaning employers are struggling to fill gaps in their staff.
The Human Element of it All
All this is without even considering the human element. I have more than a few European friends in London, many of whom have lived here for decades, who now look at the UK in a completely different way following Brexit and are considering leaving. I have one Italian friend who does not like speaking in the street anymore as she is scared of the anti-European reaction she may receive.
And through all of this, I can’t find any rational debate. I hear Nigel Farage and his cohorts spouting a load of emotional little Englander nonsense. Still, I have never once heard an argument from a Brexiteer that explains to me how this great new exciting world will come about all of a sudden after Brexit.
The main argument is that the referendum was all about democracy, and we can’t go against the people’s will. But in reality, how many of the 52% who voted out, really understood the ramifications of what they were voting for?
So let’s get a LinkedIn debate going. I’d love to hear from Brexiteers who can explain to me what we will gain after 29th March next year.
Over to you lot…