Tech firms are urging prime minister Theresa May to urgently tie up passporting and movement of people agreements with EU countries, in the wake of Brexit being triggered. With up to 45% of the UK techn industry made up by a foreign workforce (mainly from the EU), a number of firms are understandably anxious for deals to be struck as soon as possible.
CEO of distribution company Westcoast, Alex Tatham, said his international workforce needs reassurance that their jobs – and livelihoods – are safe in a post-Brexit Britain. “Our 100 plus EU workers are increasingly more nervous,” he told PCR. “Obviously we have reassured them but the government need to fix this issue urgently. The hardest thing is the uncertainty it causes the business community and undermines confidence. It is hard to be positive about anything in the IT channel as a result of Brexit. We are all trusting that deals on recruitment and trade are reached without harming Britain.”
Also worried about the impact Brexit will have on his workforce, CEO of the PPRO group Simon Black warned that unless passporting deals were struck soon, the UK could face a ‘mass exodus’ of technology companies.
“A challenge facing the FinTech industry in particular, is how firms will navigate and comply with changes to licence and regulatory requirements. Hence we are calling on Theresa May and the British government to prioritise the retention of EU passporting rights or face the mass exodus.”
He added: “In terms of Brexit-proofing our business model, we made an early decision last year to begin relocating our headquarters to Luxembourg to comply with EU regulations. This will cost us an additional £1m per year before the UK formally leaves the EU in having to maintain dual regulatory licences, setting up and running the Luxembourg office. But this is now a necessary cost.”
For more reaction to Article 50 being triggered, pick up a copy of our next issue