As we enter October, the countdown to Brexit edges ever closer. The ‘Benn Act’ requires the Prime Minister to ask Brussels for a delay if the UK hasn’t reached an agreement by the 19th October. However, Boris Johnson has already stated he will work hard to circumvent this and leave by the 31st October regardless of whether we have a deal or not.
So where does that leave UK businesses and what impact would a No-Deal Brexit have on some of our clients who store, process, and transfer data between Britain and the EU?
As one of the leading UK data centres and cloud operators, 4D Data Centres has been looking at this subject for quite some time. In fact, we ran a survey back in 2016 – not long after the referendum result – to ask IT decision-makers of SMEs what they thought of Brexit. We published that report in early 2017 and you can download the entire whitepaper here.
Somewhat depressingly, the idea of a No-Deal Brexit wasn’t even conscionable back then, but we did ask what impact they thought a Hard-Brexit might have in comparison to a Soft-Brexit. At the time, 87% of IT decision-makers hadn’t event considered data privacy in the event of a Hard-Brexit. Anecdotally (certainly when it comes to SMEs), that figure hasn’t increased significantly since then, despite a No-Deal Brexit raising the stakes considerably when it comes to data sovereignty issues.
I was interviewed by Wired Magazine last Friday and the subsequent article was on their front page for the whole of the following week, which perhaps demonstrates how seriously UK businesses are now taking this issue.
For our part, as well as talking to businesses individually, we are running a one-day briefing the week after the promised Brexit date, on the 8th November, at our Gatwick Data Centre. We will have Neil Ross, the Policy Manager on Digital Economy from techUK (the largest tech trade association in the UK), giving us his opinion on where we are at that stage - either out of the EU or delayed until January 2020 – and what impact it is having on the wider digital economy. Spaces are limited, so if you want to sign up to that, please register on our Eventbrite page.