Oxford for Europe

Public Meeting: Speaking out about Business and Brexit

organized by Oxford for Europe, co-sponsored by  European Movement (UK), Oxford Region and Oxford European Association​​

On Thursday, 4 October 2018 we held a hugely successful public meeting on the impacts of Brexit on business. CEOs, owners, managers and representatives of local businesses and creative industries spoke about their experiences of Brexit so far. 
  
Oxfordshire MPs and City Councillors were also present. Anneliese Dodds MP [Labour, Oxford East] also took part to discuss and take questions on Labour's Brexit policy and the current level of Brexit hazards in our area. Councillor Liz Leffman, deputising for Layla Moran MP, provided a Liberal Democrat “exit from Brexit” perspective, and commented on key Brexit issues in Oxford West and Abingdon.

The unanimous view amongst this diverse group of businesses was that leaving the Customs Union and Single Market would impact heavily upon UK businesses, the economy and will negatively impact our place in the world. Freedom of movement and collaborative projects have benefited the country hugely, both for people coming here to fill vacancies and share expertise and for UK citizens to enjoy those rights reciprocally. 
Complete recording [136 minutes]
The shared major concerns include:

     1. The impact of restricting free movement on recruitment, cooperation and innovation - including the cultural and financial benefits UK musicians                have received. This is already a cost and a threat to UK businesses, innovators and creative industries. It will impact our ability to compete globally,              collaborate across close geograhical borders, and to attract the best candidates here.

     2. Our future ability to participate in research projects with our EU partners, uncertainty around UK funding for R&D and remaining at the cutting edge          of innovation - an impact already being felt. 

     3. The potential for no deal is already having a major impact on UK businesses - insecurities of not knowing the trading terms post March 2019 and the          cost of making contingency plans to ensure the ability to trade further is impacting the ability to invest and grow local business.

     4. Being outside the Single Market will increase costs and bureaucracy - this will change the business model of all UK businesses who import or export            goods from the EU27. Stockpiling products to mitigate trade delays will also increase the cost of trading.

     5. The loss of consumer rights and protections afforded under EU law - it will further undermine our ability to trade with our near neghbours. 
Professor Andrew Harrison [7:16]
CEO of Diamond Light Source (Harwell, Oxfordshire), the UK’s national synchrotron science facility on issues posed by Brexit for the future of Diamond.
Aliye Cornish [7:59]
Instruments of Time & Truth (viola player and administrator at Oxford's renowned baroque ensemble) on the devastating threat of a hard Brexit to the UK music industry and Oxford arts sector.
  
Dr John Boyle [8:07]
Founder and Managing Director of Oxford Computer Consultants on the impacts of a hard Brexit for the region's IT services and science industries.
  
Rosa Ashby, Florist in Witney [6:15] 
on the severe hazards of post-Brexit trade barriers for floristry business. (Also: See Rosa talking to Catherine Bearder MEP here)
  
Susan Hartman [8:24]
Partner and General Manager, Metaphysis (Oxfordshire: Medical equipment) on Brexit threats to the NHS supply chain.  
Ian Middleton [7:07]
Managing Director, Argenteus (Kidlington) on impacts of Brexit in Oxfordshire's retail sector.
Tom Foale [8:56]
Business analyst (Wycombe) on the Brexit trade hazards facing UK businesses and examples of their coping and mitigation options.
Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour, Oxford East [1:10]

An update on their parties' current approach to the Brexit negotiations and the call for a People's Vote.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Liberal Democrat [2:27]

An update on their parties' current approach to the Brexit negotiations and the call for a People's Vote.
Councillor Craig Simmons, Greens [3:21]

On the Council's commitment to a People's Vote on the terms of the Brexit deal, which must include an option to remain.
Colin Gordon, Oxford for Europe [7:17]

Commenting on the tasks and priorities of our movement, local and national, and to plan and prepare for a winning Remain campaign, when the vote is held.
Councillor Stef Garden, Liberal Democrat [2:58]

On the Council's commitment to a People's Vote on the terms of the Brexit deal, which must include an option to remain.

Our Speakers

Speakers from the floor included Harry Bower (Young Conservatives for a People's Vote), who mentioned that the Conservatives should be the party for business and not be making business more uncertain, underminding collaboration, nor creating barriers to trade. No one voted to leave Euratom, Europol or the European Medicines Agency, and no one voted to ruin young people's future or to lose jobs. 

Dominic Bride of Our Future Our Choice (OFOC) spoke of students' concerns that Brexit poses a threat to the Erasmus scheme, to collaboration and free movement. Taking away these rights from students and young people, many of whom were too young to vote in the referendum, is an injustice we need to fight agaisnt. 


Oxfordshire entrepreneur Justen Hyde read out a sections of the letter his business received from HMRC telling him what he would need to consider if we leave the EU without a deal in March 2019. The letter failed to acknowledge that the government's course of action, by taking us out the single market and the custom's union, is findamentally changing his business model. The bureaucartic burdens and costs will undermine the competitiveness of a vast majoroty of SMEs whose business model has been built upon a home market of the whole of the EU. 

Media coverage
BBC Oxford's Beth Nimmo covered our event for BBC South Today, interviewing our speakers Professor Andrew Harrison, Dr John Boyle and Susan Hartman.
Nathan Briant reported the meeting in the Oxford Mail/Times and Witney Gazette, focussing on the plight of Witney's florist Rosa Ashby. 900 florists have gone out of business since Brexit and many more are threatened. 
Rosa Ashby, Susan Hartman and Colin Gordon were interviewed by local radio station Jack FM  about this event and the upcoming People's Vote march in Londonon October 20th.
Oxford for Europe