Survey: Has the Brexit Vote Affected You?

UPDATE: The survey below has now closed.  We are really grateful to those who took part and we will be conducting further research in due course.  Please do check back to take part in future surveys.  Our report is available here.

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First there was a vote.  A little more than a week later, we have no political authority in the country and Her Majesty must be thinking something like, “Well that’s a great 90th birthday present guys – I really could do without having to wade in and take control at my time of life” (I am sure the Royal thoughts are more eloquently put).  Apart from Parliament self-destructing, vast numbers of petition signing people threatening to hold their breath till they turn blue, and the leaders of the European Countries getting severe indigestion and threatening handbags at dawn, nothing has actually happened yet. Surely it is not news that half the UK doesn’t like being in the EU, and half does?

Never the less, based on this startling revelation, the banks have downgraded the UK’s credit, Sterling has sunk and rumours abound about the next knee jerk.  In the meantime, Mr Osborne may be thinking of making the UK a corporate tax haven, something we would all welcome?  Some question how on earth government can allow a fractional majority of the votes cast and less than 50% of the voting population to force a change as momentous as our removal from the EU. This is the same government, I think, that has said that, to go on strike in a key industry, a union should have a 60% majority?

We have now heard anecdotally that some overseas businesses are reviewing or deferring decisions to invest in the UK, while others say it is business as usual, and some report increases in sales.  With all the confusion, we would like to find some clarity.  Please would you tell us a little about your experience, and how the EU Referendum is or may be affecting you, by answering a few questions on our survey page?  The survey is open to anyone, but it can only be completed once by each person.  At the end of the survey, you can optionally leave your details and we will use them to contact you with any interesting results.

It takes about three or four minutes to complete.
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Don’t Ask Me What I Think of EU

One of the funniest comments I heard about Brexit this morning, as we awoke to its being a reality, was in response to the question of how Brussels will react. The answer was given “they will be completely shocked”. If it is true, it tells us all we need to know. There was a referendum in the UK yesterday; it was always going to be close. This is not a shocking result, and anyone who is shocked by the outcome must surely be open to accusations of some degree of arrogance.

Politicians will disagree about the political, and economists will disagree about the economic effects.  In my previous blogs I have been clear that I do not believe we can predict what will happen in this Brexit scenario, so speculation is as good as we can get. A look back at history does tell us that humans, economies and people generally are far more resilient than we fear and no doubt we will be living in very interesting times. We should be more than cautious as pundits supply endless opinions on how Brexit will impact on business.

But what of your business and what can we learn?

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Euro-nausea and how to survive the white noise

After my last post on the matter, I had intended to let it rest.  There is now so much being said about the Leave/Remain debate that we start to hope for different news.  Then we get different news, and it’s so awful that we would rather focus on Europe.  Maybe there is a lesson on being careful what you wish for.  Maybe that lesson will have some impact on the way we vote.

Despite the volume of words, very little is actually being said.  Each side speculates on the financial effect of a Brexit from opposing perspectives; but no-one knows.  Each side speculates on immigration, defence, security, you name it; but no-one knows.  Each side throws ever more unpleasant (if often truthful) barrages at each other.  The polls are currently weighted toward a Brexit.  The bookies still marginally favour Remain.

I continue to wonder where to put my “X”.  If you do too, you may find some help in EU Referendum FAQ’s produced by the UK200 Group, of which Hillier Hopkins LLP is a member.  The UK200 Group has produced this document under its Campaign for Clarity project.  The Times is trying to do something even more sophisticated.  Laudable as all this is, I am not sure that anything is clearer.

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Nothing to Hide, Anything to Fear?

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We often hear, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”?  Were it true, we would not object to the idea that some gentleman from the secret service might listen as we whisper sweet nothings, joke with close friends in a politically incorrect manner, or discuss a private business deal?

Privacy and secrecy are very much a part of business. Confidentiality is fundamental in professional life. Businesses work hard to create contact lists, customer lists, know-how and techniques, and guards them jealously.  Sometimes a non-disclosure agreement is needed to enter into any discussions with companies.  So let us not pretend that transparency in business is widely accepted as beneficial.  It has long been established that there is a need for a balance between the right to privacy, and the public’s right to protection.

But on which side of this balance do the new People of Significant Control Regulations sit?

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In, Out, Any Way the Wind Blows

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You may be expecting some wisdom on how to vote on the EU Referendum.  If I had any to offer, I might be tempted, but I do not propose to advise you on something I do not understand.  I have been itching to write something on the subject, fond as I am of my own verbosity, but quickly realised that the EU Referendum is a roll of the dice.  So I decide to make some observations, and if those observations inform your choice, I apologise, for they have not yet informed mine.

In talking to people on the subject I notice that the Decidedly Inners appear to look with a plaintiff disbelief that anyone could possibly think otherwise than to remain.  It is almost a religious fervour.  Those, on the other hand, who are less sure, tend to look shyly as they tell of a secret immoral desire to vote to leave.  A guilty apologetic pleasure exists among the not-Quite Decidedly Outers, as if theirs is a perversion, an irresistible, anti-establishment mischief.  And this led me to think about the Referendum itself.   For there is sheer dishonesty in the whole process, setting Big-Endians against Little-Endians, as if either actually knew which was right and which was wrong.

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Government and Doctors; Just another brick in the wall

There is something inevitable in the march of government to control every element of our lives.  Those who know me, know I am hardly an anarchist.  Yet I feel great distress when I see Parliament, the beating heart of our liberal democracy, “cracking down” as I see it written in the papers, on freedom.  Today it was reported in The Times that doctors, those evil ne’er do wells who scrounge on society to gain knowledge and experience so that, despicably, they might cure the sick and save lives, and thereby, cynically destroy the pensions of those who would have survived anyway, will be forced to enter into contractual obligations to work in the NHS for some time after qualifying.  This used to be called servitude, I fear.

Let us completely forget that these same people, whose typical earnings working for the NHS might double those of a London tube driver as they reach the top of their profession, are the highest performing academics in the land, who must give up at least seven years of their lives to impoverished study to reach their heady status.  Let us also forget that these folk may indeed have just a little more value to society than, well most politicians, lawyers and accountants.  Let us cast from our minds that doctors use their knowledge to heal us and our children. Oh… And let us also ignore the fact that the NHS is a monopoly employer, the only choice in the UK for a Junior Doctor to work, even now.  In doing this, we wage a righteous war on those who have the effrontery to consider that hard work, intelligence and achievement, along with helping society and humanity should ever be rewarded.  But what has this got to do with business?
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