Brexit will make UK poorer, business leader warns

BREXIT is set to be a disaster for UK engineering firms because it will make it much harder to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing and exporting, a leading business figure has warned.

Friday, 17th August 2018, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 17th August 2018, 3:00 pm
Retired Yorkshire businessman Tom Brown

Tom Brown, who served as a chairman on 15 companies, said that Brexit seems almost certain to make many of the people who voted for it, and their children, worse off. Mr Brown has written a book “Tragedy & Challenge” in which he provides an inside view of the decline of UK engineering and the challenges facing the UK economy after Brexit. Mr Brown, who is a former managing director of Fenner and CEO of United Industries, told The Yorkshire Post: “The key message is that UK manufacturing industry suffers from the scourge of financial short-termism, with City people oblivious to the future of the companies, and those who work in them, so long as they can make a quick buck.”

In his book, Mr Brown, who is from Driffield, writes: “The outcome of Brexit is totally unclear, but unless it can somehow be averted or a surprisingly good settlement achieved, then we seem to have given ourselves a colossal kick down the slopes of post-imperial decline, both politically and economically..

“The effects of Brexit will take years to work through, and then will only emerge slowly, but the loss of good jobs and a balance of payments crisis seem almost inevitable.

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“We will be poorer at a time when we already have a fiscal and a trade deficit, terminating North Sea tax revenues, and high levels of Government and personal indebtedness, while we need to be spending more on essential services such as education and health.”

He added: “By the time all this evolves, it won’t be obvious that it was due to Brexit, and I suspect few Brexit champions will admit they got it awfully wrong.”

Mr Brown is also concerned that the UK will start to lose jobs revolving around skills and knowledge to other developing nations.

He added: “In a global economy, ‘jobs for all’ in countries like the UK may no longer be possible, with major social ramifications; chronic unemployment amongst less skilled people would become an intractable and socially divisive problem, and inequality will tend to increase.”

Mr Brown, who retired after a 45-year business career in 2015, hopes his book will be a catalyst for change.