Should we stay or should we go?
Posted on 22 June 2016.
To (mis)quote The Clash’s 1982 hit, ‘Should we stay or should we go?’
Whatever the outcome of the vote itself, the repercussions are already being felt by businesses large and small across the country.
Periods of economic uncertainty are nothing new; the run up to both the Scottish Referendum and the General Election saw an overall slow down as businesses waited for the outcome before making any decisions on investments such as additional space or purchasing equipment and we’re certainly seeing that now.
A major concern is that a leave vote will extend this period of uncertainty by several years as trade deal terms are negotiated.
Immigration is a key social issue for many and has been one of the bloodiest battle grounds for campaigners on both sides. Businesses rely on European labour for both skilled and manual jobs, particularly in the property and construction sector.
Labour availability is already a headache for national residential developers and it’s hard to see how large commercial developments can go ahead if the labour supply is restricted. There are ways round this, implementing a points system for example, but again it all takes time to implement and then to subsequently get an employee a permit.
And as for red tape, bureaucracy has certainly increased over the recent past and it would be good to reduce that. But it is hard to see that happening with toasters and kettles looking like they will be latest appliances to face the EU spotlight. On the flipside though, much of the EU legislation has been a force for good – employment rights for example.
Overall, I think the campaign has caused further long term damage to the public's perception of politicians and the political process. Campaigning has been divisive and filled with hyperbole, with no clear and concise answers from either side. When both sides are arguing over which footballer is supporting their side, it's no wonder that many people are switching off.
Whatever the outcome of Thursday's vote, let's hope we can move on swiftly because, as The Clash sang, ‘This indecision’s buggin’ me...’