Fresh air with Brexit @ProcessingTalk

Having been a silent voter during the run up to the referendum, and appalled by the rubbish pedalled by the Politicians on both sides, I was delighted to discover that despite my reservations about leaving the EU, a small majority of the voting population also agreed that the positive aspects of a Brexit outweighed some inevitable early problems.

Why is there so much worry over the UK from my overseas friends and relations? The UK is one of the original trading nations, dating back to the C15th. The world is now a much smaller place, and all nations seek to trade worldwide. No countries or group of countries put up trading barriers (or walls) to stop trade, so business between the EU and the UK across the board will continue. They would lose more business than we would, by ceasing to carry existing business forwards. Plus all the recent growth in UK exports has come from trade with non-EU countries.

Forty years ago, the Politicians suggested joining the Common market would be great, citing cheap wine etc. Just another bad promise I’m afraid. Plus we joined the Common Market, not the EU, a Federation of States whose unelected bosses dictate that cucumbers and bananas shall be straight, and set the minimum size of strawberries to exclude the better English (and Scottish) ones. My niece asked where I would get my supplies of wine – so I mentioned that we drink only Australian and NZ wine, the wine sold expensively in the UK from France is actually the cheap stuff they would not drink themselves, and presumably normally turn into vinegar.

The French describe the British as a nation of shopkeepers. It is true, but I say we are a nation of independent-minded traders, sometimes also called entrepreneurs.

What about Automation

In the UK, there will be a slowdown of investment, and this will hit what little domestic spend there was on process automation. It is in the food industry where automation is needed most, and the suppliers there are surely used to an unwillingness to invest. Other sensors go into machinery that is exported, and some of that will suffer with a turndown in EU trade. The oil industry is not really investing at the moment, but the lower GBP/USD rate might make our oil industry, with its experience, and our costs more competitive in overseas contracts.

Siemens, who were publicly very much against a Brexit, has announced it will put on hold any further investment in its wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hull, where it has just set up a new factory employing 1000 people, at a cost of GBP310m. Hull voted by one of the largest majorities FOR Brexit. Dong Energy, the biggest investor in UK wind power, said “we don’t believe that UK energy policy is dependent on EU membership”. Maybe the UK can impose a trade barrier that stops Areva sending their reactor to Hinkley Point: already a UK Government advisor has suggested the GBP18Bn investment by EDF would be cancelled by the French. Maybe then we could go for a sensible UK/US solution?

From an editor’s point of view, press releases about major onshore automation investment projects in the EU, by British suppliers, have been very thin on the ground for several years. So what is at risk with a Brexit anyway? For the big multinationals, they deal with these contracts through their local subsidiaries, wherever the work or engineering is carried out. Most project descriptions these days mention interlinked CAD systems using resources from 5 or 6 design centres all around the world, and the work flows electronically through country borders. From India to Aberdeen, Houston, Madrid, Romania, Italy, UK and Egypt. So what will change? The Brexit might subtly boost the likelihood of investment projects in Eire, rather than the UK, which would be good news for Ireland.

Changes to expect

Probably the people feeling the pinch most will be the City Traders and the Banks. The pound will settle to a lower level, enabling us to recover faster, and then it will climb back when compared to the Euro, if not the Dollar. Whether there will be any further effects on the EU, I cannot predict. There is very little likelihood of Scotland or Northern Ireland breaking away from the UK and joining the EU separately (but the last time I said something similar to this, it was to say that “clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters would never be able to measure steam or gas flow” – judge for yourself).

What I would like to see is an end to the extreme contrast between the lowest and the highest salaries in the UK, possibly starting by eliminating those highly paid banking jobs. Already HSBC is relocating their Euro currency trading operation to Paris. Maybe this will put a lid on the property prices in London, and overseas billionaires will sell their empty apartments. At least we will now stop paying high salaries and higher travel expenses to the ineffectively employed UK MEPs (Members of the European Parliament)!

For another viewpoint….

For a different viewpoint, see Eoin O’Riain’s post on his Read-out.net Instrumentation Signpost blog: https://instrumentsignpost.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/nobody-knows-brexit-pauto-tandm/

Nick Denbow

http://www.Processingtalk.info

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One Response

  1. […] Fresh air with Brexit! (@processingtalk 5 July 2016 The Future for EU and UK Laws on Cookies after ‘Brexit’ (Bmon 3 […]

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