A UK 'Brexit' may have a sunny side for tech

Polls show tech industry opposition to a UK-European Union break, but the view isn’t universal

The tech industry mostly opposes the prospect of the U.K. exiting the European Union -- a view that's supported by polls and in statements.

Ahead of Thursday's vote on the idea, London's mayor, for instance, joined 140 representatives of the city's "leading tech and creative firms" to release a letter urging a vote for "remain."

"Our capital has the potential to be the Los Angeles, New York and Silicon Valley to the rest of Europe - and fuel the creation of new jobs across Britain. Let's not put that at risk," London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote in the letter today.

But that position isn't universal.

Russell Stern, the CIO of Solarflare Communications, a global provider of application-intelligent networking I/O software and hardware, thinks an exit might help his Irving, Calif.-based company.

"The EU has created more regulatory barriers, not less," Stern said in an interview. An exit from the EU could allow the UK to compete as a place with less regulation, with a positive business impact, he said.

Stern said that specific to his firm, a "yes" vote to exit could prompt Europe's financial services industry to concentrate in the UK, increasing demand for Solarflare's technologies.

Solarflare operates a research center in Cambridge, England and its two co-founders are from the University of Cambridge.

The immigration mobility now allowed in the EU has been seen as a plus for businesses. Stern says new immigration rules that would likely result from a break by the UK might increase the amount of time it takes to hire someone from another country. Bt he doesn't see it as an outright barrier to high-skilled help.

As for his personal view, Stern said he feels the UK ought to move ahead with the exit because the business environment today "is too cumbersome," and he would like to see "the UK maintain its identity."

The affects of an exit, said Jeff Broadhurst, the CEO of ERP vendor Apprise Software, will really depend on the many decisions - such as trade agreements - that take place after a vote to leave.

But Broadhurst said his company, which is based in Bethlehem, Pa. and has locations worldwide, is opening an office in the UK for better access to the market. Whether the UK is in or out of the EU has no impact on that decision.

"High tech companies in the UK are tremendously against the exit," said Broadhurst. But since EU regulators do not always act in favor of tech companies, "It would be possible that the UK becomes a better place to be based than the EU," he said.

If recent surveys of UK tech leaders are accurate, most hope to remain in the EU. CompTIA recently surveyed 32 small to mid-sized businesses in the UK; 53% opposed an exit, 19% were in favor, with the remainder uncertain.

Polls of voters have shown the vote to be close, and neither side was certain of victory. Results from the vote are expected to roll in tomorrow evening in the U.S. after polls close in the UK.

There are worries about the broader economic impact of a yes decision. Brexit would reduce freedom of movement, said Phil Gibbs, a London-based executive director of customer success for LLamasoft, a supply chain software maker based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"Many distribution operations in the UK are staffed by labor that originates from the continent, particularly within the Eastern European nations," said Gibbs via email. "If restrictions are placed on their ability to work in the UK, a labor shortage could emerge, leading to upwards pressure on costs."

Investment decisions by global companies are bound to be affected, as well, said Gibbs. "They will no doubt be modeling the impact of movements in costs, labor availability and trade restrictions on their supply chain before making decisions," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags politics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?