The draft Brexit agreement has been published. Is the UK Technology sector split over whether to support the Prime Minister’s draft EU Withdrawal Agreement?
On 14th November, 585 pages of draft agreement were published. Julian David, techUK CEO mentioned it is “the only solution on the table that can deliver the outcome of the 2016 referendum while also securing jobs and investment in UK tech.”.
David called for MPs to support the agreement. Although it is not a perfect deal, a No-Brexit scenario would be infinitely worse. However, there is a split in opinion here.
Mike Butcher, the TechCrunch Editor highlighted that the tech industry does not support the Withdrawal Agreement. He has launched a campaign calling for the tech industry to sign a letter supporting a People’s Vote. This has already gained 500 signatures and supporters!
Serviceteam IT’s Beyond the Cloud research found that 80% of UK businesses had no contingency plan in place for the possible outcomes of Brexit negotiations. To me, this is an extremely high number and I wondered whether this divergence in opinion would affect these figures.
Where does the difference of opinion stem from?
On the one hand, Martha Lane Fox chair of Doteveryone comments “the government’s Withdrawal Agreement and Political Agreement on leaving the European Union’ will not serve the best interests of the UK tech industry. It will vastly increase the friction in trade with the EU and impose significant costly charges for the tech industry”.
The main argument is that leaving the Digital Single Market, VAT area and regulatory framework will affect the base of the industry. Therefore, products may become hard to create, fund and distribute globally.
On the other hand, Julien David from techUK argues “We have been very clear that No Deal is a potential catastrophe for member businesses, and resolving uncertainty is paramount given that there are only 130 or so days to go. Therefore, in consultation with our members, we made a very clear decision to support the proposed withdrawal agreement which can resolve the uncertainty and avoids the risk of a no-deal disaster”
The argument follows that David is speaking on behalf of small and large companies.
So, is it better to plan for the draft Brexit agreement or campaign for a better deal?
It seems to me that preparing for all three Brexit scenarios may be the best way to protect your business.