Editor’s blog | Brexit throws up more questions than answers

Where this leaves the economy is anyone’s guess and we’re about to find out just how resilient the packaging industry is. It’s one of those sectors that can weather some turbulent economic storms – after all, we all need food, drink, toothpaste and all sorts of other goods that need to be packaged.

But the poll that we ran suggests that many of PN’s readers weren’t for Brexit. Our online survey showed that 59% wanted to remain in the EU; 41% wanted to leave. And in the months to polling day we’ve asking businesses about their mood – there was  anxiety over uncertainty caused by the referendum and many were keen for the whole thing to end.

Well, it has ended. We’re about to find out in the coming months and years what this vote will the EU will mean. Higher prices and barriers to trade smoothly with Europe are worst case scenarios. Thene there’s the risk of some comapnies upping sticks and moving their manufacturing operations to mainland Europe. Perhaps this might all settle down.

The markets aren’t doing ‘settling down’ just yet. The pound has plummeted with millions wiped off the stock market. This referendum is looking costly for the UK economy and perhaps that other ‘r’ word, recession, might come onto the radar. Economies do recover but what will ours look like once the dust has settled? We are in uncharted territory.

And what of our political leaders at this time of crisis? Did they really need to call this referendum? The UK economy was, little by little, recovering from the horrors of 2008 – that recovery now looks at risk. This was a gamble that has backfired spectacularly for Prime Minister David Cameron (who will be gone by October) and Chancellor George Osborne.

And what of the government? A lot is riding on its ability to bring the markets under control and it’s reputation is at stake – if it can’t calm things down then serious questions must be raised on its competence to run the economy. The traditional Conservative moral high ground on all matters economic is looking pretty shaky right now. The pound is at its lowest ebb since 1985 and I can’t help but feel that this was all self-inflicted. A referendum to settle an age-old Tory obsession with Europe.

Perhaps I’m just being overly pessimistic. Perhaps this could give the UK a fresh start, a new hope, a brave new future.  But as I’m writing this markets are tumbling and the pound is falling. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein is calling for a united Ireland while the Scottish National Party demands an independent Scotland. Both voted in favour to remain. The future for this country might not just lead to an eventual exit from the European Union but a divided United Kingdom.

Philip Chadwick

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