With March 29, 2019 approaching, we look into the meaning of Brexit for businesses. Brexit expert Peter Wilding shares his expertise, he discusses the implications of Brexit and explains how to address them.
It was the political word of 2016. Corporate lawyer and EU expert Peter Wilding already wrote about 'Brexit' back in May 2012. Four years later, the Oxford English Dictionary officially credited him when it added “Brexit” to its volumes. Now, Eurojuris member FBC Manby Bowdler has taken Peter Wilding on board as Brexit Adviser and Director of their Brexit Team.
The Shropshire based law firm offers expertise in a wide range of sectors provided by specialist teams. “We have sector teams who prioritise keeping on top of any issues affecting these sectors so that we can keep our clients as up to date as possible on anything that may impact their business.”
Peter Wilding is leading the firm’s Brexit team. With 25 years of working in European affairs, Peter is not only an EU Law expert but has gained extensive knowledge of both the EU and UK political environments. The Brexit team “aims to help companies navigate the uncertain times in coming months,” he explains. For Peter Wilding, there are four steps, that clients can and should take:
1. Inform: Now, that Brexit is getting real, it is vital to stay well-informed about the Brexit process. It is the only possible way to understand and forecast the potential impact.
2. Prepare: Businesses need to prepare for Brexit with and without a deal. A legal impact assessment followed by a commercial impact assessment is suitable measures.
3. Action: Deciding what contingency plans are required and when they should be activated. Measures include setting up alternative supply chains, identifying new customer markets, or reskilling employees.
4. Influence: Influencing the course of further negotiations is a smart way to avoid future damages and problems.
Right now, the first two steps, inform and prepare, are crucial. Still, “almost nine out of ten businesses in the UK have not even begun to prepare,” says Peter. The specific reasons might vary from business to business, but there is one common factor: the feeling that “it will be alright on the night”.
That is because it is difficult for businesses to understand the meaning and impact of government policies. It is difficult to understand the influence on and consequences for their business. And it is difficult to tell what piece of potentially bad news is project fear and what will become a reality.
What is more, the basic attitude that “every problem for business will always be solved by a government that can't let the economy collapse, has let to a sense of complacency.” It simply does not seem necessary for businesses to invest time and money preparing for something that the government should be taking care of. As a result, businesses focus on their goal to sell products and services as always.
How can law firms help their clients now? “Our job as advisors is to make sure businesses know exactly what is coming their way, and what to do about it.” To address these issues, Peter has created the FBCMB regional tube maps in collaboration with a colleague. The eye-catching design helps people guide their way down the tube line of Brexit. Let’s take a closer look: clients can find their sector line and see the issues that will affect them on each stop. They will travel through zones covering international standards, EU rules, opportunities, people and trade. Each stop is an issue to be considered for their businesses, on which Peter and his team can provide advice.
By applying the four steps, inform, prepare, action, and influence, Peter wants to give businesses legal certainty. Certainty about what to expect, and what areas of business will be affected. “We want our clients to know what their options are so they can protect their business.” Peter underlines, “we need to offer that help because the government is not assisting businesses in guiding them through this process at the moment.”
Clearly, it will take more than just legal knowledge to meet the challenges ahead. A broader skill set needs to be brought to the table, including the understanding of the meaning and the impact of government policies. In order to influence the course of future negotiations, sound knowledge of the political and administrative processes of negotiations will be necessary. The latter will require law firms to collaborate. They should look into the meaning of Brexit together, and find a common strategy.
FBCMB Regional Tube Map:
About Peter Wilding
Peter Wilding is the Brexit Director for FBC Manby Bowdler. In 25 years of working in European affairs, he has practised and lectured as a solicitor in EU Law, been Media and Policy Director of the Conservative Party in the European Parliament, and Europe Director of BSkyB. Peter has had a high speaking, writing and media profile having appeared regularly on television and radio. He is the author of “What Next? Britain’s future in Europe” and is credited with coining the term Brexit.
FBC Manby Bowdler LLP: www.fbcmb.co.uk
Google +: plus.google.com/107040281104996599346
Peter Wilding: peterwilding.com
Peter Wilding on Twitter: twitter.com/eurorealist
The Influence Group: influencegroup.org.uk
BBC. The rise of the word Brexit: www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-37896977