Recent reports suggest that Brexit will open up a vast €10.2billion (£8.99bn) hole in the European Union’s coffers when Britain permanently quits the bloc in 2021 – leaving bigger bills for other European Union nations.
Richard L. Gosling, a prominent UK-based businessman, spoke to BE’s Shahana Banerjee on how far the process of Brexit has been realised and sheds light on the challenges that lie ahead.
Q. How far has the process of Brexit been realised?
A. A major step was made in the last two weeks on the mechanism to calculate the amount of money the UK will pay to exit and it was estimated to be around $35 billion. Another bone of contention was the border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI). People were concerned about re-imposing a “hard” border but this fear has now been reduced and it was agreed with the EU that NI and Ireland would maintain commonality to avoid check points. The overall progress has been slow, and a lot of the ‘promises’ made by UK politicians during the campaigning before the Brexit vote have fallen through. A few weeks back, a vote in our House of Commons defeated a requirement to not have a vote on the final deal. This means that politicians will have a final say to accept whatever the final deal looks like and this could be difficult depending on what comes of negotiations over the coming years.
Q. How does the EU plan to treat the UK after the latter is dropped from all its institutions and agencies?
A. This is part of negotiations and not very clear at this time.
Q. What are the financial obligations that have challenged trade talks between the EU and the UK?
A. The UK makes large annual payments/contributions towards the running of the EU. This not only includes the people employed centrally, but also payments to subsidise less wealthy members. If the UK did not pay anything, it would cause difficulty within the EU. So there is a commitment to still make full contributions for two years and also pay our share of longer term projects so that no other member is out of pocket. Future projects/decisions will then be shared with the remaining members but they will go in and agree with that knowledge.
Q. What has been the impact of Brexit on oversees students?
A. There was a lack of clarity on the rights of the EU people in the UK and the UK people in the EU but that has been clarified. This means that when the final deal is signed, anyone from the other country or region will have their rights preserved. After the deal is signed there will be new rules in place but these have not yet been negotiated.
Q. How are the UK’s ties going to be with other major countries of the EU?
A. There were also fears that large companies would leave the UK, or reduce investments but honestly as I look out of The Shard, I see over 50 cranes, which is always a good sign that London is doing well and people are investing. Ultimately, our connectivity with Europe is too great. For example, German-made cars make up 40% of cars on the UK roads so Germany will want a deal with the UK and vice versa.
Q. The voting pattern has been very interesting. Would you shed some light on it?
A. Yes. Here, I would highlight another point on Brexit. If you go back to the original vote, the demographics were quite interesting. The young and those in London saw the benefits of free trade, and cultural diversity and voted to remain. Those in the north, those geographically farther from Europe, and the older generations voted to leave largely on the basis of seeing lesser economic benefit, and potentially believing that the EU membership caused immigration issues and net money left the in the UK debt rather than generating income. What this does mean is that those older generations have potentially influenced a choice they may not actually have to live with and the younger generations who voted to remain will learn, work and live in that ‘new world’. My personal view is that one way or another, the UK and the EU will be fine, we will still have trade and people will still move but it may just have a little more “red tape”.