Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry | 2. Preparing for Brexit
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2. Preparing for Brexit

30 Jul 2. Preparing for Brexit

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing you can do is nothing.”  Theodore Roosevelt

A generation may be defined by all the people living at one time.  It might also cover a 30-year period of a child growing to adulthood.   Many teens and twenty years olds might question this as they believe they are adult earlier.   The generation of many of our parents and grandparents lived through difficult times; poor healthcare, job uncertainty, unsanitary and overcrowded housing, rationing, and of course both world wars. It is remarkable that the small changes and inventions that began then and have catapulted us into the 21st century; the NHS, workers’ rights and pension enrolment, internal toilets and contraception, food banks and the minimum wage together with peace, negotiation rights and foreign allies.

We certainly live in extraordinary times and the future is as uncertain today as it was in the last century and the one before.  Whichever way you voted in the EU referendum; the reality is, following three years of discussion we head into the last three months with no firm plan to Brexit.   Whether we come out with or without a deal there will be repercussions for every business in the UK.

Can we as small businesses prepare for Brexit?

Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry are not in a position to advise our diverse and varied members what they should do.  We can highlight the need to look at your individual company and assess how you run it.  If changes occur how will they affect your business requirements or finances.

Understanding our choices and the consequences of either a deal or a no-deal exit would be really helpful.  We are however in an unknown scenario and as Sir Oliver Letwin has recently highlighted we can only guess at what is the truth and what is hype.

The Government offer a few suggestions for small business here.

The British Chamber of Commerce has suggested a checklist for all business to make sure they are ready.  The link will take you to their website here.

The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) has said: “no one is ready for a no-deal”. Read their report here with their list of 200 preparations for “reducing the harm of no-deal” at.   They in fact reiterate this message “Preparations can have a material impact”.

A final link to think about on this subject; Polly Toynbee paints a very bleak picture of the whole matter in her Guardian report.  Bear in mind this is a newspaper comment and must be read as such, however, it does make you sit up and think with her use of analogies and observations.

A few thoughts to focus our minds might be:

  • Workers and their right to work in England
  • Importing and exporting – what will change and what cost will there be
  • Running a business or subsidiary or outsourcing to the EU including travel/visa /mobile data/health care/haulage licencing may all be affected
  • Rural subsidies – can we offset the losses with a diversification of products

We are a new generation of workers who have the advantage of technology and communications the like of which would not have been imagined a few years ago.  The power to research and make our own decisions is within reach of most businesses.  Our best defence against any change is to understand or at least know the difficulties in advance and have at least one plan of action to implement.

With the Brexit deadline 31 October 2019 approaching fast it feels like we are at the start line of a race, looking round to know how to warm up and be the first off at the gun.  Those with the stamina and focus will make it to the finish line but many of us are floundering already and may not even make it over the start.   Our actions now will lead the way for the next generation of commerce and industry either through our own organisations or through their own entrepreneurial manoeuvres.

Some organisations have produced discussion papers and suggestions of what we might be preparing for.

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) highlight three things this new Government need to address urgently to help business in Britain regardless of the decision:

  • Revamp the ageing business rates systems
  • Assisting and addressing the spiralling cost of employment
  • Increasing investment and connectivity to the country’s broadband and telephone infrastructure.

All good ideas and FSB are already in talks with the new PM.  You can read in detail their proposals here.

As we approach August, Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like to wish all their members and the local community a happy summer.   Our monthly Happy Hour will take a break for this month but will be back on the 5 September.

We hope to see many of you at the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show on Wednesday 14 August.  We do not have a stall but many of our members will be there with their own businesses.  Have a look at our directory online and see how many you spot.

We will again be involved in Gillingham School Next Steps Evening to be held on Thursday 21 November.  Please contact if you wish to be involved through the Chamber or as an independent business.

We also have our fundraising event Race Night on Friday 22 November at the Olive Bowl.   Tickets £10 are available including lasagne supper.  All profits raised will go towards supporting the town.  Also available are sponsorship deals on races, horses and even jockeys.  If you would like more information or booking details please email

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  Benjamin Franklin

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