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Brexit has made the UK harder to invest in, and less productive too


The economic landscape of the UK has shifted massively since both Brexit and the pandemic. A nation that once used to build and manufacture its GDP now relies heavily on a financial services heart as trade with our closest major market becomes increasingly difficult post-EU departure. 

And this has led to difficulties around productivity, and a slowdown in inwards investment too. 

The productivity puzzle

The introduction of customs checks and the need for additional paperwork have slowed down the process of international trade, impacting industries that rely on just-in-time supply chains in particular. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the EU has made it difficult for businesses to plan for the long term, stifling investment in productivity-enhancing measures.

Brexit has also had a tangible impact on the workforce too. The end of free movement has led to labour shortages in key sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and hospitality. These shortages not only hinder operational capacity but also place upward pressure on wages, further squeezing businesses’ ability to invest in productivity-enhancing technologies and training.

Investment challenges

The sentiment around investing in the UK has notably shifted post-Brexit, as highlighted by Jeffrey Sprecher, the founder and chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange. Once a proponent of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Sprecher has observed a decrease in the UK’s value as a trading centre since its exit from the single market. The ambiguity surrounding post-Brexit regulations has made it increasingly difficult for international companies to commit to investments in the UK.

Sprecher’s comments reflect a broader trend among international investors, who now view the UK with caution due to the compounded uncertainties of Brexit. The perception of the UK as a gateway to Europe has diminished, making investments in the US and other regions appear more straightforward and less risky.

Moreover, the UK’s historical reputation as a global trading centre has been complicated by Brexit. The shift in regulatory frameworks and the potential for divergence from EU standards pose additional hurdles for businesses looking to operate across borders. 

This complexity not only deters investment but also challenges the UK’s ability to maintain its position on the international stage.

A post-Brexit reality 

Brexit has undeniably transformed the UK’s economic landscape, making it a more challenging environment for productivity and investment. The combined effects of trade disruptions, labour shortages, and regulatory uncertainties have contributed to a decline in the UK’s economic performance. 

As the UK continues to navigate its post-Brexit reality, the need for clarity and stability becomes ever more critical to regain the confidence of investors and businesses alike. The path forward will require a balanced approach, one that addresses the immediate challenges while setting the foundations for long-term growth and productivity.

And there are, of course, opportunities to be grabbed too – especially in emerging international markets, for businesses who are brave enough to shift their focus away from the EU and to the global marketplace instead. 

For more help on doing just that, click here.

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