These famous words from Churchill, in a speech given nearly 75 years ago, provide an almost perfect description of where we are in the journey towards Brexit, following the Article 50 notice having been given at the end of March.
The Article 50 letter from the Prime Minister to the EU together with the draft guidelines for the negotiations which the EU Council published in response, do mean we have a much more meaningful framework or roadmap towards Brexit than at any point since 24th June last year. However, we are still largely in a world of principles and themes rather than specifics and certainties.
What is clear is that we remain some distance away from having clarity on a number of crucial details, including on citizens’ rights, the mechanisms for securing a smooth transition and on the rules which companies will be operating once the UK ceases to be a member of the EU.
For those living, working or investing in Scotland, we also now need to layer on top of these Brexit issues the questions which are now being posed by the Scottish Government around Scotland's position within the UK - or Indyref 2, as the media shorthand has now dubbed it.
Again, it seems unlikely that we will have a definitive answer to these questions imminently. Indeed, given that the Indyref 2 debate is being driven by the prospect of there being a material change in the nature of the UK's relationship with the EU, then it would not seem unreasonable to await clarification on the specific nature of that future relationship, before attempting to crystallise what this then means for Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK.
Amidst this uncertainty, the one thing we do know is that the world will keep turning. The planning and decision making which businesses and individuals make about the future will still require to be made and whilst there is an understandable desire to take stock, few businesses or individuals will be willing to sit on their hands forever.
We are a firm which works across a wide range of sectors and with a wide range of clients - from large PLCs, owner-managed businesses, major clearing banks and angel investors to housebuilders, property developers, central and local government and private individuals. This allows us to take a broad view, whilst also seeing how the impact of Brexit-related issues can be quite different both between and within specific sectors.
So our task is to continue to work with our clients to assess what it means for each of them specifically, with the benefit of what we can see happening across the range of sectors we work in.
At the core of what we have always done for our clients is the weighing up of different sets of risks and advising on an optimum way forward in light of those risks. The nature of the risks may have changed but the need to help our clients navigate them remains the same.
We'll continue to share our thoughts on what Brexit means in different sectors as things develop but if you'd like to have a more specific discussion at any point please do get in touch with me or your usual Morton Fraser contact.
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