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Brexit one year on

Thursday 22 June 2017

IT IS one year since the UK voted to leave the EU, and the complex negotiations to complete the process began this week. Experts in politics, finance and the economy from the University of Salford give their take on the situation and assess what might happen in the coming weeks, months and years.

Dr Christos Papanagnou, lecturer in logistics at the University of Salford Business School

"There is currently a lot of debate about the impact of Brexit on international trade. As formal negotiations kicked off officially this week in Brussels, the first talks showed that both the EU Commission and the UK’s negotiating team hanker for Britain to leave the customs union and the single market. If this happens, then a lot of questions arise regarding the Britain’s future trading relationship with Europe, what will be the changes in tariffs and whether the logistics industry will undergo mutation. 

"More than half of the goods the UK imports come from the EU countries – compared to 44-48% exports to the EU in the last 5 years. These figures show the high level of complexity that supply chain managers and shippers will certainly face in terms of establishing mutual agreements on tariffs, procedures and administration. Transport companies registered in the UK, in a matter of life and death, will have to reach new deals with the EU and to anticipate tax increases in fuel duties. They should also continue enjoying seamless access to the EU market and secure all job positions EU citizens hold in various logistics positions (25% of warehouse operatives are workers from the EU).

"In light of Brexit and changes in logistics, one might think about the challenges that the industry could face leaving the EU. As negotiations will be going through, the government should invest in international markets by improving trade conditions and developing alternative shipping routes with leading or emerging economies. Also, the government should ignore the pressures for fuel duty increases and continue to focus on sustainability and infrastructure. Last, emerging technologies such as big data analytics in logistics can make the most of Brexit domestically to build a stronger Britain." 

Professor Karl Dayson, finance expert and Dean of Research

“It’s likely that the UK will suffer an economic downturn over the next few years as companies adjust to Brexit. This isn't likely to be dramatic, but we will probably see very low level growth and possibly stagnation – if you want a picture of what Britain will look like in another five years, just look out of the window because the economy won’t have moved on a lot in that time.

“The economic uncertainty created by Brexit has focused the government to look closely at what Britain will do in the future, and key to that is recognising that we are home to world class universities and world class researchers. I’m increasingly hopeful that the Government is beginning to realise that protecting the rights of academics and their families from across the EU whom have made the UK their home is essential if we’re to maintain our global leadership in higher education.

“We’ve now had two Conservative Prime Ministers and two Chancellors who have placed research and development at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery and creating an economy fit for the mid-twenty-first century, while the government’s Industrial Strategy green paper – released at the start of this year – stressed the importance of investing in research to combat the UK’s long standing issues with productivity. This is being backed with hard cash, with an extra £2bn per year being invested in research and development by 2020-21.

“The recognition that research, and the centrality of universities to the delivery of that research, matters to the wider economy is incredibly significant. There are now huge opportunities for universities such as Salford to meet the challenges set out in the Industrial Strategy, and to develop close partnerships and collaboration with industry that can deliver local benefits while also contributing and shaping the UK’s economic development. Whatever version of Brexit we end up with research in Britain’s universities will be at the forefront of our new economy.”

Dr Ben Williams, Lecturer in Politics 

“Brexit has clearly changed the landscape of British politics over the past year, in many ways and with massive domestic and international repercussions. On a fundamental level, it ended the premiership of David Cameron, whose risky gamble in holding the referendum backfired. Like Cameron, the British public failed to give Theresa May what she wanted, and she has been left with a minority government and a much weakened personal status. Her often repeated statement that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ has also been criticised for being meaningless and vacuous. 

“Brexit has created a somewhat frenetic and tense public atmosphere, with much of the media keen to emphasise the desire of the British public to secure a clean Brexit and not be frustrated by either politicians or the judiciary. This was evident in last year's judicial ruling on Article 50, which agreed that Parliament deserved some say in the Brexit process, but which generated a backlash in parts of the media against senior judges. 

“Such events can be generally linked to a growing 'anti-politics' mood, where mainstream politicians and public figures have been perceived as untrustworthy by much of the British public. Somewhat ironically perhaps, the EU Referendum result has triggered the demise of the ‘anti-establishment’ UKIP, who were major players in securing such a public vote in the first place, but whose role now appears to have been fulfilled. 

“It could also be said to have been a factor in the surprising rise of Jeremy Corbyn, who has cultivated an image as being on the side of the underdog and those left out of conventional politics. Consequently, he has exploited this rising sense of public dissatisfaction with the status quo, which has been fuelled by the Brexit environment.”

John Callaghan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History

“May’s unscheduled general election raises apprehensions about what comes next. What anticipated problems required such distasteful medicine that the Government needed a bigger majority than the one it already had to retain its Parliamentary ascendancy and face down dissent? 

“The outcomes of the Brexit negotiations and the economic uncertainties of the immediate future are full of potential in these regards. The ongoing public expenditure cuts, the rising rate of inflation, the shortage of houses and affordable rented properties and the public-sector wage freeze – all these certain problems point to future political turbulence. 

“In health, education, policing, prisons, and local government the perception is that services have already been cut to the bone. The ideological project to cut the state sector and reduce or eliminate regulatory structures constraining ‘free markets’, which the Conservative Party embraced in the 1970s, is occasionally revealed to have much further to go. 

“For the Conservative Brexiteers the great prize of leaving the EU is to be free of all regulations held to constrain market forces and dilute the UK’s comparative economic advantage.

“On June 8th Corbyn increased Labour’s share of the vote to 40 per cent, the highest vote share for an Opposition since 1970. The 9.6 per cent increase in vote share was Labour’s largest increase in a General Election since 1945. Even so, the election also witnessed the largest Conservative Party share of the vote since 1983. It remains in Government, though weakened, and reigned in.”

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Sam Wood

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