HSE Leaders Connect has seen great success this year and has earned its place at the centre of the HSE networking community, inviting established industry professionals to thought provoking events.
The most recent event, hosted by Pinsent Masons at their London offices, was no exception with the widely discussed topic of Brexit, asking ‘what does our future hold?’ Immediately following the result of the referendum, opinion was divided between those who were in support of leaving the EU and those who hoped to remain. However in the months since, there has been little clarity as to what will actually happen as a result and so as hosts looking for an engaging topic to discuss, HSE Recruitment Network couldn’t avoid the buzz word of the moment: Brexit.
With this in mind, a politically minded and well informed panel was required. First up – William Bain, Head of Fintech, Financial Services Policy and Brexit Advisory Unit for InLine Policy – a political consultancy providing comprehensive advisory services. Trained as a lawyer and previously a Labour MP, Will works closely with organisations and advises them on the potential impact of Brexit.
William describes this as his third career and admits that he is navigating difficult territory in this role, so is thankful for his ‘other’ careers in EU law and in politics. Proving himself as a reliable source of information, William led the HSE Leaders delegates through the future effects that Brexit will have and what we should expect.
This covered our future relationship with the EU – what will this be when Article 50 is invoked? There will be direct implications for industry in the UK, impacted by the change and difference between membership and access. At present, the UK has full membership (although bound by EU law) but Brexit implies that we no longer want free movement of workers and no longer want to be bound by EU law. This will have an immediate effect on immigration and will also have economic implications but as Will reminds us, the UK government have said: “trust us”.
William highlights other areas to be considered in the two years’ of discussions ahead, asking ‘should we stay in the EU customs union?’ If we stay, we can create our own rules and limitations on trade. If not, any exports will be required to have extensive checks and tests – surely a commercial concern for many organisations. Is it really worth imposing these costs to have our own trading policy?
Next question, ‘what will happen to EU employment law?’ William advises that there will be no dramatic change, however there will be potential divergence for UK employment, particularly affecting car manufacturers, exporters of food and service providers in the UK. As a result, the UK will need to return to its roots – 79% of the economy is provided by the service industry. Therefore with reduced access to the European market, the UK needs to increase its successes in other areas, such as manufacturing on home soil.
"If we stay, we can create our own rules and limitations on trade. If not, any exports will be required to have extensive checks and tests – surely a commercial concern for many organisations."
Many in the room admitted to having little idea or understanding of where we are right now with our relationship with the EU and so Will offered some valuable advice to the delegates: have your say and make your voice heard, be well informed and consider the fact that “aiming for unity is better than all sitting in different tribes.”
Mike Indian was the second speaker of the evening, a pro-active Political Journalist and Senior Analyst for DeHavilland, an organisation providing political intelligence and insight throughout the UK and EU. For Mike, “Brexit means Brexit”.
Agreeing with Will, Mike echoed the importance of individual voices being heard and describes Brexit as the fundamental re-shaping of the relationship between the UK and EU. Presenting delegates with what is to come, from the certain to the possible, to the highly unlikely (such as the decision being overturned). This highlights that the government and other policital parties, Labour in particular, now enter a period of internal difficulties. Addressing the key figures for the UK government following the referendum, opinions on Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary), David Davis (Brexit Secretary) and Liam Fox (International Trade Secretary) are bandied around the room and for the first time that evening, it is evident that there are diverse political opinions in the room but a common hope for a strong future for the UK.
The potential for an early election is quite possible in the UK as a result of this divided opinion and in recognition of the 13 million people who did not vote in the referendum. This is a fresh opportunity for political parties and to use Brexit as way to drive change. Advising us to be prepared, Mike addresses the potential scope for regulatory and legislative changes (directly impacting many of the HSE professionals present) but recommends that we “wake up and smell the coffee – this is happening.”
Photographs and video from the event are now live for you all to view, please find links below: