Brexit reaction: Businesses prepare for life after the EU

Markets in turmoil after Brexit vote
Markets in turmoil after Brexit vote

In a joint statement, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schultz, EU Council President Mark Rutte, and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it. We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty."

Anna Soubry, currently the minister for small businesses, told the BBC: "This is a dreadful day for our economy and a dreadful day for our country. It's one of the worst days of my life."

Morgan Stanley is reported to have begun the process of moving 2,000 of its investment banking staff in London to Dublin or Frankfurt. The jobs are believed to be in euro clearing, other investment banking functions and senior management.

Other reaction

Tim Martin, founder of pub chain Wetherspoon

The result will enhance freedom and security. Anxiety about the economic effects of independence during the campaign was misplaced. The UK will thrive as an independent country, making its own laws, and we will work with our good friends in Europe and elsewhere to ensure a positive outcome for all parties.

Adrian Barlow, chief executive, English Apples and Pears

Apples and pears are harvested by hand and seasonal workers are required for this. Despite enormous efforts by growers, government departments and Job Centres, it has proved impossible to recruit from the UK any more than a small proportion of the numbers necessary. In short, the British are not prepared to undertake this type of work. Consequently, almost all seasonal workers are from abroad, and at present, mainly from Eastern Europe. The UK apples and pears sector requires about 12,000 seasonal workers per annum. Unless they can be recruited from abroad, many growers will be forced to cease production which will damage local businesses, local economies, the national economy and deprive consumers.

Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus

It's a lose-lose result for  Britain and Europe. I hope the divorce will proceed with a view on minimising economic damage to all impacted by the Brexit. Britain will suffer. Of course we will review our UK investment strategy, like everybody else will.

David Page, senior economist, Axa Investment Managers

The UK economic outlook is likely to be severely affected by the decision to leave the EU. The economy looks to have sagged under the uncertainty of the referendum itself, with deferral of activity. The decision to leave the EU looks likely to make much of this deferral permanent. We expect subdued investment and foreign direct investment into the UK to weigh on activity. This is likely to be supplemented by the sharp tightening in financial conditions in its wake. Moreover, an expected relative boost to the short term inflation outlook, against rising uncertainty for employment is likely to renew pressure on households. We expect UK GDP growth to slow significantly from the 1.9% we forecast in a Remain scenario. Our expectation is for quarterly growth to fall back towards zero around the middle of next year. Accordingly, we change our forecast pencilling in GDP growth of 1.5% (from 1.8%) in the UK for 2016 and 0.4% in 2017 (from 1.9%).

Housebuilder Barratt saw its shares fall by more than 20% but said it was ready for Brexit.

We have prepared for this eventuality and whilst we recognise there will be a period of uncertainty as the UK’s exit is negotiated, the strong fundamentals of our business are unchanged. There is a structural undersupply of quality homes in the UK, and we have a clear strategy to address this, supported by a strong balance sheet to execute our growth plans... We are confident our business can respond to the changing landscape and we remain focussed on driving it forward.

Markus J Beyer, businesseurope director general

We now call on EU and national politicians to live up to the challenges when putting in place the measures to follow on the decision of the UK voters. BusinessEurope and all its member federations believe in Europe. Now it is time to return to our common European interests. We are eager to contribute to moving our continent and its economy forward. At the same time, the UK is an important trading partner. Building a new and sustainable type of relationship with the UK is therefore in everybody’s interest.

Chris Bryant, partner,  Berwin Leighton Paisner

This marks the biggest upheaval of our legal system in history – its scale simply cannot be underestimated. It covers everything from financial services to food labelling, from data protection to employment law. Tens of thousands of laws are now up for grabs. The job of deciding which laws to keep and which to abandon is too big for politicians to do unguided. Anyone doing business in the UK needs to assess their key pressure points and protect their interests. Businesses are facing years of uncertainty as they consider how they will continue to provide services and market products cross-border into the EU.

Ian Powell, chairman of accountancy firm PwC

History has taught us that UK business is adaptable and innovative when confronted with new challenges and opportunities. There will be significant uncertainty over the coming months as the detailed political and legal issues are worked out, and business confidence may be impacted. 

RBS

Our number one priority is to serve and support our customers and our staff stand ready to help them with any questions or concerns they may have. We would like to reassure all our customers that there will be no immediate impact on their everyday banking services. We are operating business as usual and have no current plans to change where we operate or how we operate in response to the referendum result. There will now be a period of time to work through the implications of the vote with regulators. We will obviously work closely with the government during this period and will keep our customers updated on any future developments.