Slow approach to Brexit
If there's one thing that we can thank David Cameron for, it is not delaying the EU referendum any longer. While there may not be much evidence of business activity slowing down as a consequence, there is undeniably a sense of cautious uncertainty hanging over the engineering sector.
Recent unemployment figures show a rise of 21,000 in the last reported quarter (December to February) – the period in which the ear bashing and arm bending around Europe was at its height, as Cameron aimed to renegotiate our EU membership terms. Perhaps this was the period when the realities of a change in our relationship with the EU started to materialise. Not the factual realties of course – such is the nature of the campaigning that facts are difficult to distinguish. It will only be when we look back with hindsight in future years that we will be able to have some idea about who was telling the truth and who was scaremongering.
In the June issue of Eureka, which will land on readers desks a fortnight before the poll, we will attempt to filter out some of the hyperbole and look at what the EU outcome might mean for engineering companies in the UK. In the meantime we are stuck in this period of cautious stagnation.
In its own right, this does not make much sense, as when we all wake up on 24th June nothing will be different from the previous day in terms of projects, customers, suppliers etc, yet for the last eight years we have lived in a world when all economic activity seems vulnerable to any negative influence. So when manufacturing output, employment and other key indicators come out for this spring, don’t be surprised if they show a returning pessimism that, until recently, the engineering sector had all but shrugged off. Whatever happens on 23rd June, at least it will be behind us!
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