A ‘nation of shopkeepers’ which will continue to thrive? The North Herts business community reacts to Brexit

Adrian Hawkins.

Adrian Hawkins. - Credit: Archant

Whether UK businesses would be winners or losers if the UK voted to leave the EU has been one of the major bones of contention in the whole referendum debate.

So following yesterday’s Brexit vote, the Comet contacted North Herts businesses to assess their reactions.

They range from a ‘Blitz spirit’ kind of optimism that an independent North Herts economy can thrive and blossom free from EU regulation, to muted disappointment that the advice of many major firms to remain in the EU was not heeded.

Adrian Hawkins who is chairman of Letchworth firm Weldability Sif, and runs biz4Biz – an organisation to support business people in Herts – coined Adam Smith’s famous phrase about the resilience of the British traders saying: “We now have control of our own destiny away from the restraining bureaucracy of the European Union. We have at least two years to prepare the Country for the final break.

“We have long been a nation of shopkeepers and I am confident that our entrepreneurial ways will sustain us and enable our economy to grow, free from the shackles of Europe.

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“We look forward to the future with much confidence.”

But bosses at major Stevenage employer Airbus Defence and Space which had counselled against leaving the EU, were less overtly optimistic.

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A spokesman for the multinational firm’s senior management team said: “We respect the decision taken by the British people, which should be seen as a wake-up call for Europe and as a catalyst for change.

“We will work constructively with the UK government to minimise any impact on our operations.

“While we are disappointed, clearly we will continue to support our workforce and operate our UK facilities. We will study the longer term consequences of this decision on the competitive environment.”

GSK, another multinational which has a major facility in Stevenage, had not made its position clear before the vote but issued a statement today saying:

“Although the EU Referendum result creates uncertainty and potentially complexity for us in the future, we do not currently anticipate a material adverse impact on the business or Group’s results or financial position.

“We will continue to operate as usual and will engage in the process ahead. We look forward to working closely with all relevant stakeholders. Our priority continues to be ensuring patient access to our medicines, vaccines and consumer products across the world.”

If your business has a point of view on the outcome of the referendum email news@thecomet.net.

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