The boss of one of the UK’s biggest technology companies has called on MPs to stop trying to find the impossible “perfect deal” for Brexit and do a compromise – before it’s too late.
Juergen Maier is the CEO of a renowned world-leader in technological innovation Siemens and spoke exclusively to BusinessCloud as politicians prepare to vote on amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit deal today that could shape the next stage of negotiations with the EU.
The businessman said it was unrealistic to think we can “have our cake and eat it” and called on “pragmatism” from our MPs to tackle the current “mess”.
Maier spoke to BusinessCloud yesterday at the launch of a programme aimed at getting manufacturers to boost productivity through the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology.
He said: “What is happening here is more important than you trying to find the ideological best solution to Brexit. The truth is there is no perfect solution for this mess that we have created of the Brexit situation. Now what we need is pragmatism.
“We need Parliament to come together, do a compromise, decide on a deal and get it through so that the industry can get on with life. Get their confidence back, invest in the 4th industrial revolution and create prosperity. That’s what is more important right now than getting the perfect deal.”
Maier said he was hoping for the softest, quickest Brexit possible. “When the original referendum took place it was clear to me the day after that we’re leaving the European Union,” he said. “It was also clear to me that there was never going to be a deal as good as being in the EU. I’m talking from the point of view of a businessman and transacting my business of course.
“We are hugely disappointed that it’s taken this long to still be in a situation when, quite frankly, we don’t know what the outcome is. The level of uncertainty for such a long period of time is becoming really, really concerning and that’s not just for Siemens, that’s across the industry.
“Everybody’s looking out for stories of companies closing their factories if we end up with a no deal or a really bad Brexit.
“That won’t be what we see. The truth will be a slow erosion of investment into factories, and we all know as leaders of industry that if you don’t keep up with your investments in equipment, technology, and training your people then in ten years’ time those factories are going to be looking in a pretty sorry place. This is all about confidence, certainty and investment.”
He said: “I’m a pragmatist, I knew this was going to put some friction and a little bit of cost into my supply chain. All I ask of people is get off this ‘we can have our cake and eat it’ (approach). We can’t have our cake and eat it. We need to do a pragmatic deal (with) minimum cost to industry. We’ve accepted there’s going to be a little bit of cost and then we just need to get on with it. Take the uncertainty off the table. Do a deal so we can start investing in our businesses in the future.”
Maier was at BAE Systems’ Academy for Skills & Knowledge in Lancashire at the launch of the Access programme, which has been spearheaded by Mo Isap, CEO of North West specialist technology training and consultancy service IN4.0 PLC.
Watching #Marr this morning was deeply depressing. No sign of compromise from any politician. Please get responsible, put your country above your own damn red lines and focus on true compromise and a deal. We need one!#ResponsibleBrexit #Brexit
— Juergen Maier (@Juergen_Maier) 20 January 2019
Maier now believes that the best approach to secure the UK’s manufacturing industry, and adoption of Industry 4.0, is by finalising a deal.
“There was never going to be a deal that would be as good as being in the EU, from the point of view of a businessman and transacting my business.
“This is all about confidence, certainty and investment and right now, our parliamentarians have got a responsibility to create some certainty for us.