Out of the EU, Britain must adapt strategy for business

Out of the EU, we must be a forward-thinking and ‘Global Britain’. However, post-COVID-19, this must go hand in hand with a redevelopment of our own manufacturing, and a boost to domestic innovation

Global Britain
Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie
On 9 April 2020 09:15

In the last few weeks one thing has become clearer, as borders shut down and the now globalised world comes to a halt. As a world, we have seemingly become over-dependant on massive and complicated international production lines.

This is a lesson we must take to heart and learn from, because fundamentally, while international cooperation and specialisation is good in part, we also must ensure as a country we can develop and innovate goods within our own borders.

Right now, the UK is at a vital turning point in its history, when decisions can be made to encourage such a domestic boom in production and innovation. With our Leaving the European Union, the UK Government will be free to set its own levels of regulation and taxation on products produced in the country, as well as on any coming into the country from abroad.

Naturally being outside the EU, our first priority should be to ensure better trading relationships with the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world.

While we are close to the EU now, the bloc should only be part of our global future. We must not tie ourselves wholeheartedly to this failing economic model. Instead, we must take an ambitious approach to open up new opportunities for UK businesses beyond the boundaries of Europe.

With a wider marketplace available to those companies based in the UK through the completion of trade deals, the UK must ensure it is the best place to do business and create new goods made here in the UK, using local skills and expertise. As has been shown with recent innovations by entrepreneurs to create new and cheaper alternatives for ventilators for use in the NHS, there is plenty of skill and innovation to go around within our own borders.

This domestic innovation is one to be encouraged and, with EU regulation removed, the UK Government must not replace one set of red tape with another. British businesses should be encouraged to manufacture goods here in the UK. We have seen the uncertainty caused by many mass international production lines, so it is more important than ever for the UK not to become wholly dependent on foreign imports in the future.

Yes, where beneficial to the UK population, we should encourage buying goods from abroad, but our priority should be improving British businesses.

A key example of this is the reinvigoration of our domestic steel industry. For too long we have become dependent on foreign imports - especially from heavily subsidised state-owned companies in China. Even this year, UK steel mills have been put out of business by Chinese competition, only to be bought out by other state-backed competitors based in China.

A fundamental reason for this has been the lack of support the UK Government is currently permitted to give to our domestic industry as a result of our EU Membership.

Following this COVID-19 outbreak and the continued doubt over the security of China’s involvement in the building of the UK’s 5G system, it is high time we began to seriously reconsider the role of foreign powers in our economy. It would be preferable for British steel makers to be supported by the government, and for UK tech companies to be the ones building the future communications systems which will help run the country.

In the end we must make sure we Get Britain Out of the EU completely, so we can really take a fresh approach to our economy. We must be a forward-thinking and ‘Global Britain’. However, this must go hand in hand with a redevelopment of our own domestic manufacturing and innovation. If we are to truly succeed in the coming years, our economy must be unleashed by a reduction in regulation and an increase in support from government.

Without this we will find ourselves having escaped from the clutches of one trading bloc, only to be trapped into another.

UK-made goods deserve a boost, and Brexit provides the perfect opportunity for the lessons learnt from the problems which have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic - and our membership of the EU - to be put into practice.

Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie is a Senior Research Executive at the leading cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out

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