Why this EU entrepreneur isn’t worried about Brexit
In the past few months we’ve focused on what business leaders and trade associations think about Brexit. Even those who think that they could end up benefiting from it have some significant concerns, whether it is loss of passporting for financial firms, or worries about the future status of their EU staff. However, Irish-born Adrian Brady, CEO and founder of Eulogy, is an exception. Brady may have voted for Remain, but since it’s certain that “Brexit will happen”, he believes that it is pointless to worry about the downsides; he prefers to focus on the opportunities.
Brady says that he is not the only business leader who’s adopting such an upbeat, pragmatic attitude. Specifically, he points to research commissioned by his agency. Eulogy surveyed 200 non-British directors, and found that 81% of migrant entrepreneurs and international directors believe that Brexit offers an opportunity for their business. Even more (82%) are confident in the government’s ability to ensure Britain’s position for international trade post-Brexit. Even on the question of immigration, which many commentators have flagged up as an area of concern, nearly half (49%) strongly disagree that they will struggle to attract international talent after Britain leaves the EU.
Brady set up Eulogy in 1996, at the urging of his then girlfriend (now wife), at the height of “Cool Britannia”. While the political and cultural climate may have changed a great deal since the days of Tony Blair and Britpop, he still thinks that London-based creative industries are “on a high”. In any case, Britain has always had an “exciting and prosperous trading mentality” with a large amount of “cultural and business openness to the rest of the world”. Whatever happens in the next few years, “this is not going to change, as Britain will always be an open economy”.
Many of Eulogy’s 50 staff came to London from Europe. However, while there was understandably a “huge degree of sadness” about the result, they are also now “pragmatic” about Brexit. So far, there haven’t been any direct effects on Eulogy, and no one has decided to leave Brady’s company to return to the continent because of last year’s vote. Brady is confident that this will continue after Britain leaves and that “most workplaces will not be affected”. After all, “whatever they say, no government will ever be able to remove three million people”.
Brady thinks that both Westminster and Brussels “are at fault” for not reaching an immediate agreement on the status of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals on the continent. However, he thinks that a deal will eventually be wrapped up once both sides “stop playing political games”. After all, “Britain has benefitted greatly from a stream of young, educated people”, while the economies of countries such as Spain have received a lot of money as a result of “a large number of British pensioners retiring to the Costa Del Sol”.
Brady is similarly optimistic about the prospects for a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and Europe that can ensure that goods and services flow as freely as possible and thinks that a “solution will be found”. After all, “both Britain and Europe are economically dependent on each other”. In any case, Brexit now means that, there are also “opportunities for bilateral deals with the rest of the world”. However, when it comes to trade agreements, Brady urges policymakers to proceed carefully, since “we don’t want to make deals that end up closing off access to Europe”. Overall, the key to a prosperous post-Brexit economy is “keeping business and consumer confidence high”.
Having grown up in Sligo, on the west coast of Ireland, Brady has an interest in how Brexit is going to affect relations between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. He is confident that a “hard border”, with automatic checks of goods and people between the two countries, can be avoided, since such an arrangement would “just not be practical” and “wouldn’t work for anybody”. As with the status of European nationals who have settled in the UK, he thinks that, whatever polticians say, they will ultimately have to respect public opinion and come up with a solution.