After studiously avoiding politics and Brexit during the first 20 editions of this magazine I’m making my second foray into the topic inside three issues.
The main reason is to thank our expert writers in our ‘If You Ask Me’ section who take you through the practicalities of the UK leaving the European Union, not only during the 2020 transition year but more importantly what happens when we all return to work on January 4 2021.
On a political level our vote to leave the EU in 2016 was one of the most seismic events of most people’s lives.
It not only altered our working relationship with 27 other EU nations but also the way we travel within them and, in many instances, have relationships with people from those countries.
As we enter March it’s safe to say that the skies haven’t fallen in and that the peace and quiet from our politicians and sections of the media is quite blissful.
I’m not meaning to make light of the problems people have – the recent floods are extremely disrupting for business and have tragically taken lives across the country. The corona virus is something that we can’t ignore, especially with news that some people are being treated at the Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield.
However, the, shall we say ‘Project Fear’, forecasts of what would happen firstly when the vote went to Leave and then secondly after actually leaving the EU haven’t, so far, come to pass.
What is worth remembering though is that nothing has practically happened. We’re still in the EU customs union and single market.
Our relationship with the EU is identical to how it was before we left until the end of 2020 and it is only then – once an EU-UK trade deal has been completed (hopefully) – that the rules will change.
From what I can pick up from the media both sides are already ignoring parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement as the rhetoric outside the negotiating rooms ramps up a notch.
Reading our experts is well worth it even if your business doesn’t have any direct contact with the continent. It’s good to have knowledge of what may happen as a strong relationship with the EU is vital to our economy as a whole.
Personally, I’m very positive about Brexit and would prefer to focus on the opportunities that are available to the UK outside of the EU rather than lamenting what we had prior to the 2016 vote.
There is no doubt that politically the divide between leavers and remainers may take a while to heal but we all start from the same premise that a successful economy is good for everyone.
On that I’m sure we can all – even EU and UK negotiators – can agree.
Sectors fighting for regional prominence
Last month I was part of a group of PR professionals from across the Sheffield City Region who came together to discuss the state of the sector in our area and how we can take on the big agencies from Leeds and Manchester.
The general consensus was that the PR scene is very much like the rest of the economy on our patch in that there are lots of talented people and good businesses but it flies under the radar when compared to our colleagues up the M1 or across the Pennines.
My day job is running HRM, South Yorkshire’s only PR agency in the Prolific North Top 50, so the discussion was particularly pertinent as we try to not only work hard for our clients but showcase the SCR as a vibrant place to run a business.
One thing I have noticed about this discussion and one I attended for the tech sector recently is that the core theme is very similar.
We do so much good work in our area but there is always a feeling that we’re playing catch up or are in the Championship to our rivals Premier League. There is no quick fix for this, but it will require groups of people to work together for a significant amount of time to raise entire industries.