“Brexit: the necessary exorcism of the ghost of Empire” – an aerospace engineer’s perspective

Paul Newberry is a consultant aerospace engineer and he’s saddened by Brexit and the loss of opportunity and restriction of freedom it brings to people young and old. He is witnessing its negative impact in his industry and on the career prospects for young people (including his son who followed him into the business). It’s bad news for the UK’s future scientists, engineers and innovative industries as a whole.

During employment with a local aerospace company, Paul was active on two major design and development projects that would have led to future high tech, high-skill jobs. These were technologies identified by the EU as having growth potential and both projects were EU-funded.

“The Europeans are good at this, that’s why there is still a strong industrial base in Europe. Unfortunately, because of Brexit the two projects have now have moved back to EU design and manufacturing teams. It was just the sort of high technology work we need to allow us build a “high wage economy”. UK Engineers and scientists (like musicians) learn by working with fellow European colleagues; however, they are now disadvantaged with a blue passport that denies them freedom of movement and the ability to work easily in other European organizations.

While we were members of the EU, staff transfers, data transfers, hardware exchange (exports) was seamless and easy because we were all part of the same integrated system; same rules, same market. Brexit means delays to these transfers and puts UK business at a disadvantage, Brexit red tape is strangling business flexibility. Large companies don’t suddenly move because of something like Brexit, but the risk is it’s going to result in a death by a thousand cuts for some of these businesses. They’ll be gradually wound down bit by bit as the UK loses its competitive edge.

Inward investment from European companies and overseas becomes more difficult to justify in a country that’s inwards looking and increases unnecessary bureaucracy; the result is the costs of developing anything new goes up!

Paul is also the owner of a small export company. Brexit red tape requires that a custom declaration is now completed for items sold to the customers in the EU. Form CN22 has to be completed for the smallest of items, adding costs and delays.

“Exports to the EU were 40% of my turnover, EU sales have fallen by 80%. Brexit has added so much cost, hassle and time that it’s no longer economically viable, European sales have begun to dry up”.

All this extra paperwork was not necessary when the UK was in the single market.

“The UK did not appreciate how much work was put in to remove bureaucracy during our 47 years as EU members. We have yet to experience the full impact of Brexit as the UK has delayed implementing all the border checks under the UK / EU agreement, and these will further damage supply chains.”

“Despite political leaders. like Churchill with his Zurich speech in 1946, extolling the virtues of a Europe that works together and Margaret Thatcher (remember that EU jumper!!) and Harold Wilson, the UK voted for Brexit. Professor Danny Dorling sums up where we are in his You-tube video “What’s So Funny About Brexit? with Danny Dorling (2019)”.

Danny concludes; “I would like to spend my pensionable age in a country that finally has come to realise that it isn’t special, that there’s not a reason why we should be number one (the Empire) or two in the world, we’re not going to be the fifth largest economy for much longer anyway, and it can all be a much better place without all that.”

In summary, the only good thing about Brexit is that it will demonstrate to the UK the benefits that we had as EU members and will exorcise the ghost of Empire.  Recent polls show this has started… so there is hope.