Keep closer to your continental customers

Midlands businesses need to get closer to their clients both at home and abroad as the EU referendum looms, according to Johnathan Dudley, Midlands managing partner at national tax, audit and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill.

While there is bound to be considerable speculation over the UK’s future in Europe there is absolutely no need for industry to pull back on trade with our Continental partners, he insisted.

Mr Dudley said: “Re-negotiation and a referendum are being built up in some quarters as a major destabilising factor for business, creating two years of uncertainty.

“But it may prove nowhere near as serious a challenge as some seem to think. These are uncertain times but businesses should carry on.”

While the Prime Minister had placed at the heart of his General Election campaign a pledge to alter Britain’s relationship with Brussels before holding an in-out referendum by at least the end of 2017, there were, said Mr Dudley, already indications that an accommodation might be reached.

Especially given the referendum might now be brought forward, with a vote as early as next year.

“But, given Mr Cameron’s express wish for the UK to retain its place in the EU, subject to the re-negotiation, it is quite possible that a deal can be struck.

“Yes, there will be some nervousness and I am sure business will be relieved if the period of uncertainty can be shortened.”

He went on: “A civilised compromise is nevertheless the most likely outcome.

“Midlands industrialists should remain calm. It is business as usual. There is no need for any trade hiccup.

“Indeed quite the reverse. The Midlands has been pushing exports ahead and attracting inward investment. We are on a roll. We need to accelerate trade not put the handbrake on. This is the time to get close to customers and clients and re-assure them we remain a confident can-do region.”