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We need to talk about Brexit

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By Phil Jerome, managing director of Meridian Vehicle Solutions

It is virtually impossible to escape the debate, discussion and outright arguments about Brexit at the moment, but there is one sector I have noticed is especially quiet on the subject – the fleet industry.

So why aren’t we having a serious conversation?

To some extent, with the ongoing absence of clarity about exactly what form leaving the EU will take, the silence is understandable. And the fleet industry isn’t alone.

Nearly two-thirds of businesses across the whole of the economy have yet to do a risk assessment about Brexit, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

There remains no answer to the simple question: “How do you prepare for something when you don’t know what it is?”

However, with March 29, 2019, only a few months away, now, surely, is the time to start talking about potential pitfalls and how they might be tackled?

Certainly, the motor industry as a whole has not been slow to make its forecasts known about the impact of Brexit, thanks to statements from everyone ranging from Jaguar Land Rover to Toyota.

However, there has been little said by fleet despite the fact that the issues Brexit could create are considerable. 

These could include everything from new vehicle and parts availability through to labour shortages in vehicle maintenance, transportation and preparation – not to mention the effects of any general economic downturn.

With the clock ticking down, it seems to me that we should be making an attempt to outline the danger areas, identify the most critical, and talk about how we may be able to mitigate against the worst effects, perhaps through industry-wide co-operation. In that way, if issues do arise, then at least we are not starting from square one.

This is, in no way, an attempt to drum up any kind of hysteria around the subject, rather to recognise that it is potentially disruptive to fleets and to open up a dialogue that seems, so far, not to really be occurring.

I am sure it really would be both interesting and valuable to hear the thoughts of a wide range of voices across the industry.

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