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Top entrepreneur says only People’s Vote can end Brexit mess

by Angela Spang | 19.10.2018

Last year Sweden-born Angela Spang was named as Women Entrepreneur of the Year. But this serial entrepreneur in the medical devices and medical training sector warns that Brexit could force her to leave the UK.

I am from Sweden originally but have chosen to make my life in the UK where I run a medical device company distributing surgical products to the NHS. This means we import from abroad and sell to the NHS.

Currently we have 17 different groups of products in our portfolio. Two of those are made in the UK but we also import from the US, Ireland, France, Spain, Israel and Monaco, so my business is very sensitive to any disruption at the borders or imposition of new rules and tariffs.

At the moment there is absolutely no clarity for businesses like mine about what is actually going to happen with Brexit and that is making planning for next year an exercise in futility.

I am pretty convinced Brexit is a terrible idea for the economy, but even if it were not we are less than six months away from leaving and still no-one can tell us what even the basic arrangements will be at our borders.

That lack of basic detail from the Government is already causing real harm to businesses who cannot cost their products or services for next year. Investment and employment is already being hit.

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If the newspapers are to be believed, Nissan in Sunderland has been “given assurances” about the post-Brexit future – but the rest of us just have to muddle through.

Recently I received a little letter from Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, telling me that the NHS may stockpile products. He didn’t say what, how, where, when, which ones or how much – just that it “may” happen.

It is an astonishing state of affairs. We should be absolutely clear: stockpiling is not a contingency plan, it is an emergency plan and no one voted for that for the NHS in 2016.

Of course there are some who see this market disruption as a potential opportunity, and I can understand that.

There are some products I produce which have competition from overseas and if the borders go up I could take advantage of that lack of competition in the short term.

But business grows best when it is pushed to innovate and compete by other organisations who are also thinking, inventing and promoting their products.

That is the mechanism by which the market makes us all better off, and sells us better, safer, more effective products. Costs at the border and protectionist policies at home will kill that process and we will all lose out.

In the long run, talent, funding, collaboration and new launch innovations will go to more attractive, bigger, faster moving and better-integrated markets first.

Why would I launch my products first in the UK if it needs a separate registration from the EU?

The answer is, I couldn’t justify it and I fear I am by no means the only businessperson who will take that view.

That is why I am backing a People’s Vote and why it’s the only way out of the chaotic mess Brexit has become.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

One Response to “Top entrepreneur says only People’s Vote can end Brexit mess”

  • We didn’t even stockpile medicines in 1940 ! I’m an expat living in France so Brexit will directly impact my future life, not least because, although the negotiations regarding how EU and UK expats are treated have been completed, they have not been signed off and likely won’t be if there is no deal. To say that I am furious with brexiteers in general and David Cameron in particular, who didn’t have the courage to face down his back benchers, is putting it mildly. Where is he now and why hasn’t he been pilloried for landing us in this mess.