‘Keep our global digital position post-Brexit,’ UK tech firms ask May

Open letter to the Brexit negotiators from tech entrepreneurs calls for as smooth aa transition as possible to our post-EU status

Posted 7 December 2016 by Gary Flood

'Theresa May' by Asian Awards on FlickrPrime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit team must do more to protect the UK’s “world-class” digital standing as part of the EU leaving process.

“The No. 1 concern for entrepreneurs post-Brexit is access to talent, in particular technical talent,” the PM is being told.

The call comes from British tech entrepreneurs gathered at  TechCrunch Disrupt, held this week in London.

Digital business leaders issued a detailed to-do list they say need to be followed to make any possible negative impact from Brexit on the tech sector as minimal as possible.

These are:

  • Keep the visas of “skilled tech workers from strong tech nations”
  • Ensure existing migrants are allowed to stay and work in the UK
  • Offer tax rebates to start-ups if their business rates make up more than 5% of overhead
  • Launch a ‘Tech Britain is Open’ to parallel Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘London is Open‘ campaign
  • Overhaul R&D tax credits
  • Ensure access to the EU’s Digital Single Market.

The proposals were signed by a host of British tech sector luminaries, including Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman and Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of start-up Decoded.

The execs say that a “clear statement” is needed soon to ensure the tech sector “isn’t damaged by recent rhetoric”.

“In these uncertain times, the British high-growth technology sector needs certainty from the government in order to continue its world-class status,” the letter goes on.

“Britain has attracted some great entrepreneurs from around the world.

“It is imperative that the Government recognises the need to attract and retain the very best talent globally.”

“What the UK government needs to make sure is that technology companies still have access to the best talent in the world. If (that happens) without a lot of red tape, we are going to be fine,” Zennstrom told delegates on the first day of the conference, which is for investors and start-ups.