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Is it time to stand up to Brexit bullying?

When do you finally say enough is enough? Is it time for the UK Government and for UK businesses to push back?

Now let me make this clear at the start, in my opinion nobody wins from brexit. I wish the entire process was never started and I was always in the remain camp. But the British people voted to leave and the view of the people must be respected.

My views on the benefits of remaining in the EU was based almost entirely on two factors. The free movement of people, which I see as the greatest benefit for future generations and our ability to trade on a global scale as part of a bigger entity. Neither of these views have changed but my willingness to remain within the EU has.

If a vote was held again today, I am not sure I would vote to remain.

Why?

Because I don’t like being bullied!

Instead of torturing the world’s oldest democracy with unacceptable demands, our Chancellor Frau Merkel and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker should unite in calling for new talks, renegotiating face to face if need be. Theresa May has been gravely weakened but it is unconscionable for European leaders to use this as a stick to beat her with. Alex Von Schoenberg Editor De Bild

Europe to me is a wonderful place with such great diversity, history and shared values. The EU is not Europe. It is the institution, founded on such great principals, that has unfortunately lost its way, and carries on with its centrist policies seemingly oblivious to the people.

Over the last couple of years since the referendum, I have spent some time watching the feeds of the European Parliament covering many different issues. I strongly recommend allocating some time to do so. Watch the performances of an institution which does not tolerate dissent from the accepted EU lines. I would particularly look at the way Hungary was treated over it’s refusal to adopt the policies of the EU on immigration. The general lack of respect shown for member nations, their leaders and voters. The drive towards a central armed forces, central global policies and the lack of acceptance for differing views, I believe, will bring about it’s downfall. Far more so than the UK leaving the institutions.

It really is a great shame, that something that has achieved so much since it’s formation is being led down a path of self-destruction by the likes of Junker, Verhofstadt and the like.

The recent re-confirmation and re-enforcement of the treaties between Germany and France send a clear message across Europe. The message is that they will drive ahead with the ‘One Nation’ Europe. Much to the dismay of even their staunchest supporters in the EU, who fear this type of message is driving the voters away from the EU.

Having succeeded in humiliating the UK Government, now it is the turn of the EU to bring out the businesses to further turn the screw.

“Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness which asserts that because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong. Of course it’s not possible to pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately, however aerospace is a long term business and we could be forced to redirect future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.” He added: “In a global economy, the UK no longer has the capability to go it alone.” Tom Enders CEO Airbus

So Airbus, is saying that unless the UK agrees to the EU’s terms and accepts all of the concessions, it would consider pulling production from the UK and transferring to another country.

As someone who has looked upon the Airbus project with some degree of pride in their achievements as a proud European, I am disgusted by the attempts, on behalf of the EU, to apply pressure on the UK. Some will say that this is just a business stating its right to have its voice heard and in some ways I agree, but where is the pressure being applied to the other side, the EU!

Time and time again, European businesses are telling the UK what it should do. Time and time again, European businesses are supporting the EU negotiating position. So is it not now time for British business to start to push back.

BAE Systems, has a 20% stake in Airbus. It should be using that position to defend it’s interests. Perhaps if Airbus wishes to transfer its manufacturing to Germany, Spain or even China (I fail to see the logistical benefit of that one but it’s a possibility) then perhaps BAE can use it’s power as a major shareholder to make it difficult. Maybe, with a full review of the operations there, perhaps they may decide to take back the production there and work with Boeing, a company with an increasing global production profile. I am sure that many options are available and already considered by the company and I am sure the UK Government. It’s time to stop taking it on the chin.

If Airbus doesn’t value the contribution generations of workers in the UK and wishes to move production elsewhere for financial, political or any other reason, then let the skilled workers there, supported by strong management of perhaps BAE, start to look at new alliances. Let the UK Government start a programme of courting the likes of Boeing with Tax incentives to see what impact that could have.

I am not saying for a moment it would be easy and I am not ignoring the genuine concerns of the workers and families affected by this, but we have to look at alternatives. Airbus as a business will do what it wants to do anyway, whether Brexit happens or not, and with the constant pressure applied internally for more production in France and Germany and with its eye on opening the Asian markets, who’s to say Airbus won’t move production anyway. Perhaps a suggestion would be to turn it back on them. How about saying OK Airbus, you clearly want us to stay so how about you put in writing, say, a fifty year guarantee that all wing production will remain in the UK.

The UK has the second largest aerospace industry in the world. We have the skills the abilities to prosper. I would sincerely hope that Airbus recognises the contribution places like Filton and Broughton have made to the development of its projects. If it doesn’t I’m sure its competitions will.

Look at the other side of the coin, at Dyson. The big business supporter of Brexit, soon to become a Singapore registered company. It is doing what it feels is best for the profitability of it’s business. Nothing more nothing less. It is doing what all big business would and should do. But like Airbus it got involved in National politics when it shouldn’t have done, because businesses are not here to make the lives of the nations citizens better they are here to make profit, period.

If the UK set a corporate tax rate of 0% tomorrow, would Dyson move to Singapore? Probably not. Would Airbus consider becoming a UK registered entity, probably yes (however I don’t think the respective European Governments would make that easy), but my point is simple, businesses operate to make profit. They are structured to minimise taxation and reduce, wherever possible, operating costs.

If the UK wants to prosper post-Brexit, it should start to make it clear that that is exactly the type of country we wish to become. The UK has for the last two years attempted to reach agreement with the EU and has been continually told no.

So take the gloves off.

Is the EU in a stronger negotiating position than the UK?

Yes.

Is the UK so weak that it cannot stand alone and prosper in the global economy?

No.

Forget the rhetoric from the extreme camps on both sides of the argument, which would have you believe Armageddon is about to break out or that we currently live in a utopia. It’s about negotiating the UK’s exit. So is it not now time, in view of the EU’s unwillingness to cross it’s ‘red lines’ to say enough is enough. We wanted to work with you on common practices and agreements for the betterment of all but you don’t want to. That’s ok, now we will look only at the UK’s best interests.

Ireland and the Netherlands in particular, have benefitted within the EU structures with favourable tax schemes for large corporate entities.

Why not then the new UK.

Why are Apple based in Ireland?

Largest European Market?

Best infrastructure?

Or could it be a tax friendly environment for them to operate under.

Businesses want assurances and they want to operate in the most economically beneficial way. So leaving the EU means we lose that edge with increased duties potentially in place. If that burden increases by 10% then why not reduce tax by 10%. In fact go further, reduce the tax burden by 15%, and attract more businesses into the UK. Corporation tax in Ireland is 15% against 20% in the UK. Ireland has rising tax revenues at this reduced rate, why not the UK?

Financial services in the UK is a great success, capitalise on it. Promote it more make it impossible for any Global institution to think of operating anywhere other than London. We have the skills, we have the environment and we have the reputation to build upon. Yes EU pass-porting of financial products raises issues, but these have already been overcome by these institutions with subsidiaries throughout the world. Whatever rules the EU puts in place to protect it’s interests will and have already been overcome by these global players.

What the EU doesn’t want to admit is that it fears the UK operating as a large global ‘tax haven’ on it’s own doorstep. It had the chance to avoid it. It has so far refused to engage. So lets put the plans in place that could get us there and perhaps bring some balance into these negotiations.

Perhaps then a ‘negotiated deal’ could happen and a win/win could be achieved for all parties. The Governments, the businesses and the people.

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