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Why a Brummie heating engineer wants a People’s Vote

by Nick Hart | 22.08.2018

I’m a heating engineer by profession, from Birmingham, aged 52, and with 30 years’ experience in the business. Today I’m increasingly worried that the shambles we’re making of Brexit could see the company where I work struggling to stay afloat and remain profitable.

I’m the operations director of the UK arm of a German manufacturing company, Kampmann, with 12 employees based in Shepperton, Surrey. Our turnover is £6 million a year. We’re one of the leading suppliers of heating, cooling and ventilation systems in Europe and our team at Shepperton is a story of successful cross-border co-operation.

Like many others in the construction industry, our business works on a “just-in-time” basis. We coordinate our supplies with other contractors. Our equipment is made in Germany and delivered to various construction sites all over the UK. It can be expected to be up-and-running by the close of business on the same day it is despatched.

This is the same for thousands of other businesses. We don’t have warehouses with huge quantities of stock just waiting to be supplied: that’s not how modern businesses operate. If we had to do that it would add to our costs, which would mean charging our customers more.

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The ongoing chaos of the government’s negotiations puts that smoothly-oiled machine – and the jobs of the people we employ in the UK – at risk. I simply don’t know if my equipment will be delayed whilst stored in a yet-to-be-constructed bonded warehouse on the UK south coast while it clears customs. I don’t know how much I will have to pay for the privilege of that storage. I don’t know the delay this will add to our delivery schedules. And I don’t know what effect all of this will have on my clients’ construction programmes.

All my colleagues are deeply concerned about the possibility of “crashing out” of the customs union and the impact it’s going to have on our business and livelihoods. If it’s something the Brexiters at Westminster seem relaxed about, I can tell you, we’re not.

We’re already seeing the impact of this uncertainty on the business. Whilst we continue negotiating future projects, I’ve no idea if there’ll have to be an extra amount factored into the quotations to cover these additional costs. That makes me look like I don’t know my business, and it’s putting customers off making capital decisions.

I know for a fact that investment plans are on hold for a lot of companies – for whole projects, not just for the part that we play – and I know my colleagues across the rest of Europe are simply astonished at the harm we’re doing ourselves.

When we voted in the June 2016 referendum we had no idea what arrangements would be made for trade at our borders and were told a deal would be a straightforward, “next day” event. We now know that couldn’t have been further from the truth. This is why I’m backing a People’s Vote.

This is the first in our Brexit Voices series, where we hear how the uncertainty of leaving the EU is affecting people’s lives across the UK.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Why a Brummie heating engineer wants a People’s Vote”

  • From my own experiences I can confirm the disbelief and incredulity about Brexit in the Western end of the EU. One of the issues that fostered dislike is the financial harm being caused to foreign countries without the populations there having any powers in mitigating the damage, as well as the unbelievable hostility that came the way of the EU countries.

  • In the UK some of us liken Brexit to a three legged wooden stool with one leg broken. No matter which way one tries to stand the stool; It is an impossible task. Brexit is undeliverable. The British people want and are working very hard to achieve a vote on the deal or no deal. The British government Brextremists are fighting such democracy as is the opposition Labour Party. The momentum is growing though from within the Tory and the Labour Party. Much more from industry and the public. We must achieve the People’s Vote.

  • With the catastrophic vote two years ago I always thought there could be a second referendum, Boris Johnson said there would be, that’s before he put his Brexit flag up, and that he would vote to remain in the second one.
    We are expats, my husband has dementia, we are living in a Spain, where they understand and are very simpathetic with his condition, we have been promised that the British Government would carry on with their care of us, as paid up British pensioners. Recently I have not heard any mention of what would happen with no agreement. There seems to be total confusion and we are living on a knife’s edge.