‘No Deal Brexit would be worst outcome possible for UK tech sector’

‘Picking up the ball and going home’ remains worst EU-exit option for Britain’s technology sector, warns techUK

Posted 10 October 2017 by

techUK has had a look at the government’s latest thinking on trade post us leaving the EU in 2019 – and it’s fair to say it’s pretty concerned.

Commenting on the Government’s White Papers on Customs and Trade, techUK CEO Julian David says a ‘no deal’ scenario remains the “worst outcome for tech”.

In a blog post on the body’s site, he notes that The Prime Minister is “right” to reaffirm her commitment to the proposals she set out in her Florence speech, but that, “The priority now must be securing the transition proposals she set out as quickly as possible.”

Why? Because, he says, the UK’s tech sector urgently “needs clarity” in order to continue to secure investment and deliver growth.

“Until then, businesses will be forced to plan for the ‘no deal’ scenario that remains a real possibility. Such an outcome would mean no agreement on key issues such as data flows, immigration and trade and would be deeply damaging for UK tech.

“Getting a deal and avoiding a cliff edge will require both the UK and the EU to work together and to compromise. It does not matter whose court the ball is in, simply picking it up and going home would be in no one’s interest.”

David isn’t done there, though – he also has some concerns about the Government’s Customs Paper and Trade White Papers, too.

On the former, he warns that getting our customs processes right post-Brexit is vital for the tech sector and its consumers, but says building the “streamlined processes” needed will take time, and that in the interim, “Until the Government comes forward with a clear plan and technical specifications this work cannot begin, and the clock is ticking” – and that, “While the Government is right to explore all possibilities, businesses need clarity about the most realistic outcome.”

And on the latter, he has this to say: “The Government’s Trade paper sets out a sensible approach for our future trading relationships – however, securing a good EU deal must remain a priority.

“The EU is the UK tech sector’s primary market and is a vital part of what makes the UK such a great place to start and grow a tech business… [so] knowing which markets the UK will maintain access to immediately post-Brexit is crucial to companies understanding the impact it will have on their business.”

He does end on a positive, welcoming the clear commitment to leadership at a WTO level, in particular the commitment to remain part of the Government Procurement Agreement.

This is vital if the UK is going to continue to improve and digitise our public services, he says – but again, focus is needed: “The Government should also look to sign other WTO agreements, including the ICT Agreement, in order to maintain strong leadership on tech and international trade.”

David’s group claims to represents the companies and technologies that are “defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow”.

More than 950 companies are members of techUK, employing over 700,000 people professionals, or about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK, from leading FTSE 100 companies to new innovative start-ups – but the majority of its membership are SMEs.