Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit: Business Leaders Reaction to Result

On Friday 24th of June 2016, Britain woke to the realisation that the majority (52%) had voted to leave the EU. The shock waves that followed have dominated the news. David Cameron has made the decision to step down as Prime Minister and the pound is currently at a 31-year low, making England poorer than France. The FTSE 100 has dropped 8.7pc and ratings agency S&P have downgraded UK's credit rating from AAA to AA, due to the negative outlook after the Brexit vote. Labour's shadow cabinet members are also quitting in response to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership over the EU referendum!

Analyst are predicting that many investors are likely to move their money out of the UK and for the people of Great Britain it may mean that European travel and imported products could well rise in cost. In addition Scotland has voted to remain and many of it’s population would sooner break away from the UK instead of leaving the EU.

Britain as a whole is divided. For many the country is in turmoil whilst other's celebrate the result as a victory for democracy.

Leading up to the vote, Sir Richard Branson commented that Brexit would be ‘the worst decision Britain could ever make.’ Following the result, on the 25th June, the IBT times listed the reactions of many top business leaders, including that of Sir Richard Branson, Jes Staley and Paul Polman, which you can read below. It make's for very interesting reading.

Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin

"None of this [leaving the EU] will happen overnight, and the UK will face a multitude of complex negotiations and difficult choices over the coming years. This decision will create volatility and will threaten much of the good work delivered by the EU over the last 40 years. Nevertheless, we must all accept and respect the majority vote."

Jes Staley, chief executive at Barclays

"This is a significant decision and there will be many questions asked in the coming days and weeks about what happens next. The answers are complex but our position is not - we will not break our stride in delivering the Barclays of the future."

"We have stood in service of our customers and clients for over 325 years. We have been here for them through equally profound changes before. And no matter what has been laid before us, we have been here to help them achieve their ambitions.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP

"I am very disappointed, but the electorate has spoken. The resulting uncertainty, which will be considerable, will obviously slow decision-making and deter activity. This is not good news, to say the least.

Paul Polman, chief executive, Unilever

"The most important thing to have long term prosperity is to accept the will of the people and respect democracy. Now we all need to unite."

Sebastian James, chief executive, Dixons Carphone

"Feel strange and unsettling following the vote but we are the same, our company is the same, and our job is the same."

Ian Shepherd, chief commercial officer, Odeon & UCI Cinemas

"Genuinely can't believe it. Have spent the week with colleagues from around the world who were rooting for the UK to come to its senses."

Carolyn McCall, chief executive, easyJet

"We remain confident in the strength of easyJet's business model and our ability to continue to deliver our successful strategy and our leading returns.

"We have today written to the UK government and the European commission to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market, given its importance"

Douglas Flint, group chairman, HSBC

"We are today entering a new era for Britain and British business. The work to establish fresh terms of trade with our European and global partners will be complex and time-consuming. We will be working tirelessly in the coming weeks and months to help our customers adjust to and prepare for the new environment."

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel

"The decision to leave the European Union will send shockwaves across the UK's steel industry. Our sector is well versed in having challenges thrust upon it, but it's clear that this is like no other.

It is now more essential than ever to create the right business conditions in the UK that allow the steel industry to survive, invest and thrive. This will ensure that our vital supply chains, such as defence, automotive and construction, can rely on the production of steel in the UK so we are self-sufficient and can never be left at the mercy of others."

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive, Goldman Sachs

"We respect the decision of the British electorate and have been focused on planning for either referendum outcome for many months.

"Goldman Sachs has a long history of adapting to change, and we will work with relevant authorities as the terms of the exit become clear. Our primary focus, as always, remains serving our clients' needs."

Anthony Bamford, chairman and managing director, JCB

"European markets are important to many UK businesses, including JCB, and this will not change. We should look ahead to opportunities to trade more freely with the rest of the world, as well as building on existing trading relationships with customers and suppliers in Europe… The UK is the world's fifth largest trading nation. We therefore have little to fear from leaving the EU."
Unknown Creative Director / Author

Todd Anderson is an award winning British designer currently based in Cape Town, developing innovative brand and packaging solutions with a variety of clients; partnering with some of the world's largest retailers, alongside nurturing smaller companies just starting out.

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