So, at last, after three and half years, one referendum, two general elections and more parliamentary votes than anyone can care to remember, the UK has finally settled the Question of Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s comprehensive victory in last week’s General Election means that we can now be sure that, whatever follows, the UK will begin the process of leaving the European Union in early 2020. For many, the result is a blessed relief after such a long period of confusion and uncertainty.
The past 18 months have seen a whole variety of outcomes briefly rise and fall: managed Brexit through Theresa May’s withdrawal Agreement; No Deal Brexit, with the UK defaulting to WTO rules; or a halt on the whole process while a second referendum took place.
Ultimately, we will now most likely get the beginnings of trade negotiations between the UK and its European counterparts once the initial Brexit Bill passes parliament – which may well be before the Christmas break. Given that the PM claims his deal is ‘oven-ready’ then we can expect things to move quickly in the coming months.
So what will it mean for businesses? For many, it will be business as usual – immediate disruption to supply chain, workers’ Visa status and other crucial areas has been averted by the election result (and subsequent lifting of the imminent threat of No Deal). Certainly, it’s likely that many decisions that have remained on hold for the past year – and official figures surrounding business investment suggest a huge amount of hesitation – will now begin to resolve.
Certainly, some are predicting an immediate uptick of business activity, as this recent article in the Times shows. And there’s no doubt that many of the strengths of the UK economy will now begin to return to the fore.
World-leading banking sector? Check.
Unparalleled levels of expertise in law, finance, accounting? Check.
Business-friendly government determined to attract as much overseas investment as it can? Check and check.
So 2020, after such a sustained period of inertia and uncertainty, should be a year of growth and renewed confidence. And while many businesses will be dismayed by the ultimate Brexit outcome – surveys continue to show more businesses preferred to Remain – at the very least they can now begin to plan for the future.
The optimistic view holds that, finally, Britain is emerging from a painful period of division and disruption. With the fundamentals intact, there should be no better time to set up in the UK.
Britain is very much, open for business.