Post-Brexit Black Britain
For good or for ill, the consequence of Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom is unquestionably massive. There is no modern-era precedent for the multifarious ramifications of that one decision by the British people.
In at least 5 ways, the effect of Brexit on Black business owners (as a defined subset of Black Britain) is even more profound than on the general population.
1. Part of the problem or part of the solution
The very large diet of “alternative facts” (to paraphrase the press apparatchik of a certain transatlantic super power country) fed to the populace during the referendum campaign has inevitably left a bitter after-taste.
People were clearly told that their problems had a lot, if not everything, to do with the “large numbers of foreigners” in the country. The most visible, by appearance of all “foreigners” is the Black person.
The exact fact of place of birth and/or nationality was not allowed to inconvenience the peddlers of the notion that those who were not White were not necessarily welcome. Even when a specific Black person was a second or third generation British National did not seem to matter. There have many reported instances of people simply being told to “go back to where you came from”.
This negative sentiment is expected to eventually percolate to and damage the prospects of Black businesses in some way, and it is prudent for owners of such businesses to factor this eventuality into their contingency planning.
2. Currency weakness
As the economy course corrects in the years after the vote, a weakened Pound is likely to be a feature of business life for a long time. The currency weakness will contribute significantly to inflationary pressures, which may well compel the Bank of England to raise interest rates, which in turn will increase the cost of borrowing across the board.
Within the Black business community, increased finance costs will exacerbate the twin issues of historically poor access to finance as well poor marketing performance resulting in low sales.
In reality therefore, a weak Pound is very likely to make matters much worse for the struggling Black business owner.
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3. Travel and tourism
Depending on how the negotiations regarding the status of EU citizens in the UK and that of UK citizens in other EU countries go, business and non-business travel within the EU can be negatively impacted.
In some respect, the eventual deal struck is irrelevant. There is already a growing sentiment against the Black person, as the most obvious “other”, to immigration authorities in both the UK as well other EU countries.
It gets even worse for Black businesses relying on tourism. If people cannot (or feel that they cannot) freely travel to the UK, there would clearly be a knock-on effect on the revenue streams of those businesses.
4. Imports from the rest of the world
Many Black businesses trade in goods from parts of Africa and the Caribbean, for example. These imports would likely be affected in any number of ways arising from the revocation of existing arrangements and tariffs.
The severity of the impact of Brexit will naturally depend on the exact trading arrangements the UK ends up making with the rest of the world.
“Optimists are people who make the best of it when they get the worst of it.”
5. Consequences for the Union
What happens to Scotland and Northern Ireland will have seismic repercussions on the lives and businesses of Black people in the UK, particularly the ones currently residing in those parts. If Scotland were to gain independence and/or Northern Ireland were to become part of a United Ireland, it should not be assumed that this would favour the Black person or business. The opposite could well be the case generally or in specific locations, depending on local circumstances or politics.
The case for involvement in community
If there was any doubt whatsoever about the relevance of and need for a supportive “Black business community” in the UK, Brexit presents many powerful reasons for Black businesses collaborate and support one another.
Black Business Champions is the perfect vehicle for meeting this essential need and at the same time has become a critical resource for business survival and long term growth.
~~ Dr Fatai Badmus. Co-Founder, Black Business Champions.
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