A 'hard' Brexit will hurt recruitment, R&D in the UK
Updated 19:11, 13-Mar-2019
Global Business

Two weeks before the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May faced rejection again for her Brexit deal on Tuesday. Experts warned of the impacts on recruitment, research funding and investment if a "no-deal" Brexit happens.   

May's Brexit deal was resoundingly rejected by Parliament. "It is a very significant defeat," said Tony Travers, professor at the London School of Economics.

"As recently as 24 hours ago, it looked as if Theresa May had come back from Strasbourg with extra qualifications to the original deal she had done…It's a narrower defeat than last time, but we're much nearer to March 29th. So it's pretty bad for her," Travers added.

The biggest issue at the moment is that "nobody knows what’s going to happen. We are all guessing what’s going to happen today and tomorrow," said Professor Rajneesh Narula, the John H. Dunning Chair of International Business Regulation at the University of Reading's Henley Business School.

And from Narula's perspective, that situation makes both investment decisions and company strategies harder than before, while the immediate effect will be on European employees working in Britain.

Professor Rajneesh Narula. /CGTN Photo

Professor Rajneesh Narula. /CGTN Photo

"Twenty to twenty-five percent of scientists, universities, academic and researchers in the UK are European citizens, not British citizens. And we don't know what the new regulation is going to be on visas and permit,” he noted, adding that Britain might see more difficulties in terms of recruiting Europeans to come and work in the UK after Brexit.

Meanwhile, British research and development will suffer, according to Narula. He mentioned that the UK depends on European-funded or subsidized research projects, with 20 percent of research funding from the EU going to Britain.

"For a hard Brexit, we are not going to see any of this money. And we won't be allowed to apply for the money or use the money," Narula warned.

"And we will have difficulties attracting partners, because nowadays, science and technology research depends on cooperation between organizations,” he continued. For the last 15 years, the UK could recruit the best people from everywhere else. But now this is going to stop as well if there is a hard Brexit.

To keep Britain's attractiveness, he stressed the significance of productivity.

"Productivity levels have been declining. Lots of resources have been invested by the UK government to raise the quality of British infrastructure, British institutions and the education system. Then we can produce people who are even more productive. And they will make up for the losses we are going to experience because of a hard Brexit," the professor stated.