A vote was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. The campaign to leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.

So is Brexit definitely happening?

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March, 2019 – it’s the law, regardless of whether there is a deal with the EU or not. Stopping Brexit would require a change in the law in the UK. The European Court of Justice ruled on 10 December 2018 that the UK could cancel the Article 50 Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members, and remain a member of the EU on its existing terms, provided the decision followed a “democratic process”. Prime Minister Theresa May warned Conservative MPs thinking of voting against the deal she reached with the EU that they risk “no Brexit at all”. This is a reference to another referendum, which is backed by the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru the Green Party, a small number of Conservatives and larger group of Labour MPs, who want the public to be given the final say, with the option to remain in the EU. They are trying to get the Labour leadership to back them – but Jeremy Corbyn says his priority is to force a general election.

What’s the current position on the Brexit deal?

After months of negotiation, the UK and EU agreed a Brexit deal. It comes in two parts:

  • A 585 page withdrawal document, which is a legally-binding text that sets the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU. It covers how much money the UK owes the EU – an estimated £39bn – and what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK. It also proposes a method of avoiding the return of a physical Northern Ireland border.
  • A 26 page statement on future relations. This is not legally-binding and sketches out the kind of long-term relationship the UK and EU want to have in a range of areas, including trade, defence and security.

The UK Conservative cabinet agreed the withdrawal agreement text on 14 November, but there were two resignations, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. After a period of discussion in the Houses of Parliament, The Brexit proposed agreement was put to a vote on 15thJanuary 2019. This was rejected by Parliament and saw Prime Minister, Theresa May lose by 230 votes – the biggest defeat on a UK government policy since at least 1924.

With the UK still scheduled to leave the European Union on 29th March 2019, this continues to create a significant level of uncertainty and risk to business to ensure continuity of services in a landscape that currently is not clear.

What’s GEV doing to mitigate the risks of BREXIT?

At GEV we have been following events closely and implemented our contingency planning over 6 months ago. It is therefore important to provide some commentary on the steps we have taken to continue our support to our clients throughout this period of uncertainty. As part of our ongoing growth strategy, we had identified the importance of being able to support our clients more closely by having a continental European hub. This also provided additional security to our business in the event of a disorderly BREXIT process.

We have therefore established a new German entity GEV Wind Power GmbH & KG established in the City of Hamburg. We are also delighted to have appointed Bartosz Tutorski as our General Manager for European Operations. Bartosz joins us having previously led supply chain functions at both Siemens Gamesa and Vestas following a career as a Management Consultant working for Accenture.

A further initiative has seen us increase our number of continental European based technicians, which means that we have sufficient capability to support work without having to move technicians between the territories, in the event of a hard BREXIT.

This means that if necessary, we can contract with our clients through a European entity and support work with European based technicians. Equally, in reverse we can support UK based projects through our existing UK business and technician pool.

In short, the steps we have taken are designed to ensure that for our clients it is business as usual, whether we execute work in the UK, Continental Europe and even North America supported from our base in Texas.