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EDITOR’S BLOG 070716 D.I.V.O.R.C.EU

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Skeldon2014BWsmallSo the UK has voted to leave the EU. Can’t believe I have actually written that sentence, but we are where we are: things will continue and move on, there is always a way forward.

Even though right now no one in politics actually has a plan, the business world will move things on as they have to keep moving. Capitalism demands it (which might be why we are in this mess in the first place, but that’s for another day).

And the slow process of finding this way through the ball of confusion left to us by what can only be described as “arseholes” (no, not the voters, but the rats who gnawed through the ship’s hull, set the boat on fire then promptly abandoned the sinker) starts here.

So what are the problems that the telemedia industry faces post-Brexit? Well, like all industries, right now nothing. The most immediate thing that will start to have an effect is currency values as the pound plummets (as I write it has hit a 31 year low against the US dollar). Collecting money from other markets in other currencies is going to cause problems with the bottom line. But, paying developers and costs in other countries plus a slightly lower tax burden from lower profits could offset this in the short term.

The real problems that will impact all facets of the industry is the mid and long term as the Brexit process actually takes place. The main thing that we see in our articles on what Brexit means for payments, digital marketing and telecoms is how dismantling the raft of regulation that impacts all industries is going to have on the business.

As I write the cabal of cranks that want to lead the Tory party – and by default become our unelected prime minister – are in chaos as to what to do about regulations and laws. One leading contender, Andrea Leadsom, is already making noises that she’s going to abolish maternity pay and the minimum wage, who knows what she could do to all the telecoms related laws and regulations that surround our industry. The rest don’t seem to have a plan.

But this uncertainty around where we are going and how we are going to be policed is important. How Phonepay Plus works won’t change much, but the rules that it and Ofcom have to uphold could be significantly different in a few years time.

This in itself is a major upheaval as it may all change – for the better or the worse – but undoing all the stuff we have in place and knowing over the time that process will take is going to cause real problems and significant costs.

There are many other issues with Brexit and the unwinding of our relationship with Europe, not to mention the issues with building a new one post divorce. There are also going to be many more with forming unilateral trade deals with everyone else. Is it all going to be worth it?

If I knew the answer I would sleep easier at night, however no one knows and so we are going to have to make this up as we go along. Potentially it could be disastrous for the UK telecoms industry as a whole if we don’t keep the EU regulations we already have. It could see many big carrier’s parent companies take many jobs away. It could see costs for consumers rise.

On the other hand, it could open up a much more lax environment free of EU red tape and with the ability to run much leaner companies with zero-hours contracts, no minimum wage and many other reduced overheads. For business it will be a success either way – the bosses will make sure it is – but for the workforce (many of whom voted for this) it could be very costly indeed. Interesting times lie ahead.

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