Brexiteers of Britain: Be careful what you wish for

June 1, 2016
At the end of June the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU). With the pound immediately falling but slowly recovering, what does this mean for the country's water market and export of industry technology?

By Tom Freyberg, Chief editor

At the end of June the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU). With the pound immediately falling but slowly recovering, what does this mean for the country’s water market and export of industry technology?

It takes a lot to shock me. Yet, on the morning of Friday 24th June, I was genuinely in shock for a few hours. It wasn’t the English football team crashing out the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament to Iceland - I’ve come to expect the worst from our paltry, overpaid excuse of a national team. Instead it was a decision from the country to leave the European Union (EU) following a referendum. In total, 51.9% of voters (17.4 million) decided on a Brexit (Britain to exit the EU), against 48.1% (16.1 million) who voted to remain.

Leading up to the big vote, I was firmly sat on the fence on which way to vote: I could see the benefit of unity between 28 (soon to be 27) nations as the biggest peace treaty and single market agreed since the second world war. Yet I could see why people wished to break free of the political shackles from Brussels.

After spending numerous days researching you could say I came to my senses and decided to vote remain. It made sense from a business point of view, environmental point of view, political point of view and several other points of view to stay in the EU. Yet, over 17 million people didn’t seem to agree with me and the other 16 million who voted.

Speaking to people ahead of the vote, I was often told that “we should govern our own country” or that “we don’t need all the red tape from Europe”. Trying to answer calmly, the reality is that EU regulations have done a lot for the UK’s environment. The Water Framework Directive and Bathing Water Directive have helped to clean up the country’s waterways. In other industries, the Landfill Directive helped drive the country’s recycling rate up and divert valuable materials from being buried in the ground. The Renewable Energy Directive - mandating 20% of energy demand to be met by renewables by 2020 - has helped to diversify the country’s energy mix. I could go on.

As you can read from our analysis on page 10, a Brexit has triggered worry among UK water experts. Amid the pound dropping to its lowest for 30 years and market uncertainty, unfortunately I think it’s not just the water sector that’s worried at the moment. Still, every cloud has a silver lining - we’ve got the European football to look forward to. Oh, wait…

Tom Freyberg, Chief editor

More Water & WasteWater International Current Issue Articles
More Water & WasteWater International Archives Issue Articles
About the Author

Tom Freyberg

Tom Freyberg is an experienced environmental journalist, having worked across a variety of business-to-business titles. Since joining Pennwell in 2010, he has been influential in developing international partnerships for the water brand and has overseen digital developments, including 360 degree video case studies. He has interviewed high level figures, including NYSE CEO’s and Environmental Ministers. A known figure in the global water industry, Tom has chaired and spoken at conferences around the world, from Helsinki, to London and Singapore. An English graduate from Exeter University, Tom completed his PMA journalism training in London.