Business Travel After Brexit: The Impact on UK Workers on the Go

There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the UK at the moment and at the heart of those feelings about what lies ahead for many of us in the coming years, is the Brexit vote.

The 23rd June 2106 will most likely be seen as a defining moment in British political history and the whole of the UK business community has been forced into reassessing what the referendum result means and what impact it will have on their future trading plans.

Many travellers are left with uncertainties regarding potential disruptions to services, even frequent and business travellers are worried if the Brexit could put a dint in their plans. It could be a couple of years before any changes set in, and chances are that things will become more clear how travel will look after such a date as time goes on.

Currently, all EU laws protecting UK citizens are still in place. This includes EU Regulation 261 which provides legal rights to passengers who have suffered from a flight delay.

The only thing you are certain of is uncertainty :

The Brexit result sent shockwaves through financial markets and in the aftermath, it also had business travel experts scrambling around to try and make sense of what it would mean to anyone wanting to travel and trade in Europe in the coming years.

The immediate answer is that nothing has actually changed, as the UK is still in the EU for at least two years and that is the minimum term before the official divorce takes place, as the clock only starts ticking once Article 50 is triggered.

This is the official withdrawal document that sets a framework for the UK to leave the UK and renegotiate new trade deals as a non-EU member, but no one even knows when or if this will happen.

So the immediate outlook is surely not to panic or overreact to what conjecture about what might happen, and instead, continue making your normal travel plans as though nothing has happened, because other than a vote being cast, nothing else has actually happened.

business travel

Cost could be a significant factor :

Although Brexit hasn’t even been implemented yet, everyone in the UK has at least had a glimpse of what the future of travel in Europe and further afield might look like from a cost perspective.

Finance directors throughout the UK may well have already had a few uncomfortable nights worrying about the immediate cost implications of Brexit.

If the Treasury are anywhere near accurate with their long-term forecasts, the value of the pound might suffer a sustained period of inferiority, with its value plummeting by as much as 15% against other major currencies, notably the dollar.

This drop in value has already been witnessed, so the future of business travel plans could be heavily impacted by some higher costs, not just for flights, but everything else associated with business travel, like hotels and entertaining, all of which will cost more with a weaker pound.

But again, it might pay to take the glass half full approach to the current situation, as the immediate aftermath of Brexit has affected the value of the UK currency, however, there is no reason why it couldn’t strengthen again once a clear exit strategy and trade deals have been hammered out.

Corporate plans might change :

There is a current risk that some major companies who currently have offices in the UK, may well decide that it is more prudent to relocate to another country that is remaining in the EU.

Some regular routes that are frequented by business travellers, such as the East Midlands to Brussels for example, are believed by some travel industry analysts, to be vulnerable and may no longer exist once Brexit becomes a reality and it is not so relevant to make that particular journey.

Customs controls are another issue that could well prompt some corporations to consider whether it would be more viable to locate their business to somewhere away from the UK, so that they can still make use of EU trade regulations and border controls.

The point about all of these ideas and proposals is that no one really knows what trade deals the UK are going to be able to negotiate when Brexit is triggered, which makes it very difficult to make any firm contingency plans.

It is worth pointing out that although you might perceive there to be an exodus from the UK on the Horizon, not everyone holds the view that the UK is not an attractive destination for investment, with Glaxo recently announcing a £275 million investment in new sites.


A gradual and complex withdrawal :

Perhaps one aspect about Brexit that you can probably be fairly certain about, is that the UK’s exit from the European Union will be a gradual but complex affair, so don’t expect things to change too rapidly.

What we do know is that existing trade and immigration rules remain the same while all the exit negotiations take place, so nothing changes for at least two years and only when Article 50 is invoked.

The problem for the business community based in the UK is that there is a general perception that the regulatory and trade agreements that are eventually thrashed out and ratified, could be far less favourable than what is currently in place.

If you are a regular business traveller from the UK, this is a time of uncertainty as it is unclear just how profound the impact of Brexit will eventually be in terms of trade and travel opportunities, but for now at least, it is a case of business as usual.
Steven Allen is a UK based business traveller with more than a decade of experience contributing articles to numerous travel sites. He has a keen interest in consumer rights and is always looking for ways to improve customer service for airline passengers.

Photo Credit | Shutterstock

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