Brexit and Manufacturing


Britain is getting ready to vote on the serious question of whether they should leave the European Union.

The EU, like the United States, is a group of political entities that have agreed to share currency. Its members can travel freely from one member state to another, they can work anywhere, retire anywhere and draw pensions, and sell freely to one another without barriers.

If Britain decides to exit the EU — to make a BREXIT — they’ll go back to pounds and give up Euros. They’ll give up their right to move freely around Europe. They’ll be able to control immigration and refuse to accept the large waves of EU immigrants they’ve been coping with.

How will this affect manufacturing in Europe?

Britain faces the skills gap just as American manufacturers do. Being able to hire easily from across Europe has helped to increase their employment pool, and U.K. manufacturers in general are opposed to BREXIT.

Britain’s manufacturers will not only see a shrinking talent pool if Britain leaves the U.K., they may also see a shrinking customer pool. Right now, Britain has access to the “single market” — all of the European Union’s consumers. If Britain decides to go it alone, they may lose that easy access.

The relationship between Britain and the EU would have to be renegotiated, and there is no consensus on how it might turn out. With 42% of middle-sized companies in Britain relying on international trade, the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics, has called BREXIT “a very risky gamble.”

At the same time, some U.K. manufacturers claim that EU regulations have been stifling innovation and productivity in Britain. BREXIT, they say, will give Britain more control over their economic destiny and all them to focus on high-end manufacturing.

The decision will depend on this week’s vote, and it is the public rather than the manufacturing industry that will decide.

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