In Hart the turnout for the EU Referendum was 57,822, a turnout of 82.7% with 30,282 (52.4%) voting in favour of remaining in the European Union compared to 27,513 (47.6%) voting to leave the EU. Across the county over 33 million people voted with 51.9% people in favour of leaving the EU.
The political campaign in the run up to the referendum was marked by claim and counter claim with fear at the centre of arguments on both sides. In the democracy that we are so proud of the electorate has spoken and only history will judge whether this was the right decision for the UK economy.
For business and economies uncertainty is a bad thing – decisions are delayed and businesses and consumers get nervous. Even though our withdrawal from the EU will take many years in the short term we know there will be uncertainty. The pound initially plummeted to its lowest level since 1985 and the FTSE fell over 7% when the markets opened but, as one commentator explained, the purpose of these markets is to make money from events such as this. Organisations like the Bank of England have prepared contingency plans for this outcome and what happens in the first few hours or weeks will not reflect the long term position. In the same way that financial advisers say that investment in a long term strategy and advise caution against reacting to immediate market shocks, we also need to take a long term view.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced he will resign. What we need now is strong political leadership to steer us through this unprecedented event. Egos must be put to one side and the focus must be on ensuring our economy thrives - not on internal political infighting or power struggles. The people have spoken and politicians must ensure they now focus on providing as much stability as possible and delivering the instruction from the electorate in this referendum.
I spoke to many local business owners during the campaign and many were divided. Some business owners buy products from overseas so exchange rates were at the front of their mind and how this would affect their costs and prices. The vast majority of businesses I spoke, however, trade locally, sourcing products locally where possible, employing local people and relying on local people as their customers. Research has shown that for every £1 spent with a local independent business, 63p is reinvested in the local economy.
Every year the bestof’s national Buy Local campaign champions local independent businesses. In Fleet and HartleyWintney this campaign generates huge interest and support from the local community. This year the campaign runs until 25 July.
At a personal level now is not the time to turn away from local independent businesses. We need to rally together and support local businesses as they are an integral part of the community we value so highly.
I have over 20 year’s marketing experience working for companies including Hewlett Packard, Royal Mail, Hitachi and AQA. I live in Fleet and am the owner of thebestof Fleet helping small and medium companies...