Letter sent to all Westminster elected Members of Parliament by Maurizio Bragagni, CEO of cable manufacturer Tratos, in which he argues a No-Deal Brexit is not an option.
I am writing to you to ask you to join me in supporting the Prime Minister’s Deal with Europe.
For my company, and others like it, we believe our businesses would be little affected by a No Deal, and, in fact, to a larger extent we would benefit. However, now is the time to put self-interest aside and work together for the best outcome for the country, and the economy, we share.
Despite voting Remain, I understand and support the path laid down by the democratic vote. Me, and others like me, need to support the PM’s deal — we need to deal with it and we need to plan effectively. We have to stand by the push for wider economic success.
The Prime Minister has been resolute and effective in her delivery of two very important things: a Brexit and secured jobs for the UK.
I am an industrialist. My company, Tratos, produces electrical and fibre optical cables in Knowsley, Merseyside. In 2008 we made a significant investment in Knowsley to extend capacity and to be ready for future growth. *
The UK Cable industry is worth £1.8 billion, plus a further £900 million in fibre. Because we invested in manufacturing in the UK, the day after any No Deal Brexit, my company will be one of the few inside the country to benefit from the customs tariff and the post-No Deal chaos. But that’s not we want, it’s not what is best for Britain. It’s now about Team UK. Business and government working together to bring in a sustainable deal that will settle the country’s economy and seed the start of a regenerated Britain outside the EU.
We, in our industry, will move from a fiercely competitive world-wide marketplace to a protected one, and, because of our UK manufacturing base, we will be one of the few who stand to benefit.
My supply chain is already secured: our copper comes from South America, compounds from the USA. My major customers are infrastructure organisations like Utilities and Telecom companies, so whatever happens to the British economy, they will stay in the UK, and so will we. This isn’t the case for every business. We have to make the best choices for the most people. So, yes, I will turn away from the most favourable outcome for my own business — because I am a UK stakeholder. The best for the country has to be the first priority.
I offer also a personal point of view.
I am British, even though I was born in Italy. I’m a British citizen. So, I am not affected by the status of ‘foreign national’ within a No Deal scenario. I am still able to move around between the UK and Europe. No queueing, and fully able to benefit from the privileges offered on both sides of the Brexit borders. No Deal is, for me, no big deal.
Yet still, I will support the PM’s Brexit deal.
Tratos is the largest manufacturer of railway cables. We produce for Trenitalia, Irish Railways, Deutsche Railways, although not for Network Rail.
We have tried hard to change that, and we have heavily invested in our UK manufacturing facility, but we have not yet succeeded. We will not stop trying.
Network Rail uses a sponsor system. In reality it serves to make sure nothing changes. Neither an enlightened or a fair system.
Network Rail awarded a three-year cable supply contract in 2005. It should have been re-tendered in 2008, we are still waiting.
In a No Deal scenario, Network Rail would be forced to come to us, and yet, still, I support the Prime Minister’s deal.
On paper it makes no sense for me to support the Prime Minister’s deal. I should be 100% behind any No Deal yet, here’s the thing: there are some things bigger and more important and there are some things that can wait their turn while the bigger issues are settled. For me it is more critical to love the country and do my part to work with the best choice for the most people here. And that isn’t No Deal.
No Deal would see the British people pay too high a price and the country along with them. I, for one am prepared to put aside my commercial aspirations and play for the greater good. And of course, that’s what we expect our legal representatives in Parliament to do — to do the right thing, whatever their own preferences.
The Referendum was a narrow victory for leavers. Because the margin was paper-thin it does strike me as odd that leavers are showing little consideration for ‘the other half’ (48%) of the population who wanted to remain.
The division has brought its own destruction with the country; Parliament, political parties and the cabinet are at odds. I don’t want to imagine the potential for wider insurrection if Britain spirals out of the EU with no deal.
Her Majesty the Queen made a veiled appeal for a middle ground to be found in order to unite the country. That, to me, sums up the referendum result. It was just a few short percentage points from the exact middle ground — between stay and go.
Egos have to be sacrificed on the altar of common sense now. Time has run out for political posturing. No one’s political career or point scoring is bigger than getting us through this.
Damaging future relationships with the other European countries now is less than helpful and won’t best-serve the generations to follow. The sabre-rattling has to stop, we’re a long way down the road and we have to give in order to gain — the definition of compromise. If one of the negotiating partners goes away 100% happy, then what you have reached in no way resembles a compromise.
No business can plan ahead when there is so much uncertainty surrounding a nation. Some, like my own, were already built to survive Brexit without a deal, but we are big enough to recognise that plunging the country into chaos and even a recession is too big a price.
World leaders are warning against a hard Brexit including the Prime Ministers of Japan and New Zealand. Voices within the CBI, Bank of England and the Chancellor himself call for cold-blooded analysis rather than political bluster.
Hundreds of multinational companies, especially from India, Korea, Japan and China invested in Britain because of free access to the biggest market; Europe. Now, they are left high and dry with the referendum result. Naturally, they must relocate in order to secure their future business and growth in Europe. According to Bloomberg, 350 British companies are in advanced talks with the Dutch government to move their businesses to Holland in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Some of the Japanese, German, French and even British Banks are planning to move to Frankfurt, Germany. Sony and Panasonic have moved their Headquarters to the Netherlands. The NHS will face a severe shortage of drugs post Brexit. Supermarket shelves will see a dearth of fruit and vegetables. Inflation will creep up due to a weak Pound. Many European migrants are already abandoning Britain due to the volatility of the currency and uncertainty about their future.
All the rhetoric about business continuing with Europe on World Trade Organisation rules is little more than a red herring. WTO rules do not offer guaranteed access to foreign markets. Goods and services are subject to customs’ formalities and checks which always lead to delays and costs. For example, under the WTO rules, cars and car parts will attract a 10% duty. There are 164 members of the WTO, but none of them are trading freely with one another. Their trade is subject to customs and tariffs.
If the WTO rules created a panacea as claimed by some politicians, then there was no need for Britain to join the European Community in the first place.
I hope good sense will prevail and the Prime Minister’s deal, with agreed amendments, is approved.🔷
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(This piece was originally published on Medium. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)