Those of a certain age will remember a colourful tabloid journalist called Derek Jameson. Editor of the News Of The World in the early 1980s, he then went on to present an entertaining and insightful TV programme called Do They Mean Us?, which took a wry look at how Britain was portrayed in foreign media outlets. The show gave rise to one of the most quoted catchphrases of the era: ‘Do they mean us? They surely do!’
Jameson passed away in 2012, and you have to wonder what a similar programme would make of overseas’ journalists view of Brexit Britain today. In some quarters there is a sense of bewilderment abroad, or even astonishment about the brave or foolish (depending on your point of view) direction the UK is taking.
His pithy slogan can usefully be repurposed for the purposes of this week’s Brexit blog. As we enter another – and possibly genuinely the final – ‘last chance’ week of negotiations, all businesses are being urged to get ready for the end of the transition period, in just 22 days time.
And yet the evidence suggests that many have not yet started to prepare. Partly this is down to not knowing exactly what we are preparing for, but there seems to be some evidence that many businesses think what’s coming will not affect them. If you are one of these, I would like to paraphrase Derek Jameson: Do they mean you? They surely do!
You may think that the changes which are coming on 1st January will only be relevant if your business imports goods from the EU, or exports goods to the EU. But there are a whole host of other businesses which face major change as well, and if yours fits into one of these categories, then the exhortation to prepare for Brexit surely does mean you.
Perhaps you move goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland, or you transport goods across EU borders. Maybe your business provides services in the EU, or employs EU citizens. You might exchange personal data with EU organisations, process personal data from the EU, use websites or services hosted in the EU, or provide digital services to customers in the EU.
Does your business rely on intellectual property protection, IP copyright protection or trademark protection? Or design protection or patents protection? Do you run a website with a .eu domain?
Perhaps your business trades with
developing countries, or with any of the any of the 54 non-EU countries with
which the EU has a trade deal.
It’s pretty clear that this list will include a lot of businesses which don’t regard themselves as simple importers or exporters; in fact, there will probably be more firms covered by these conditions than not.
So, when you see the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ TV ads, rather than assume that they are for others, ask yourself ‘Do they mean us?’ Because the chances are, ‘they surely do!’