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Ask HN: UK Startups – Are You Thinking of Leaving the UK Because of Brexit?
86 points by julianpye on Oct 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments
UK Expat here living in Munich. Anecdotal, but many companies here (startups and corps) are getting more and more CVs from EU staff of Tech startups in London. Not sure if it's the same in Berlin or other EU hubs. Also wondering if UK citizens would move over to gain extra rights of EU movement when here during the transition.

Currently developing a free app for UK citizens to relearn medieval methods of subsistence living after the imminent collapse of the economy and our National Health Service. Pro users will be able to get access to horse-and-cart-focused GPS, gamified witch-finding tutorials, an advanced plague management app and outbreak tracker, and an advanced AI-assisted voice app (voiced by Simon Pegg) that shows you how to cure just about anything with leeches. I predict business will be booming. If any VC funders are interested, please send a pigeon to my homestead in Brighton.

>If any VC funders are interested, please send a pigeon to my homestead in Brighton.

JFYI, on the new (British) maps under development it will be marked Beorhthelmes tūn AFAIK, whilst on the new (Euro) ones it should be identified as "Novvs Portvs".

Do you support IPoAC (IP over Avian Carriers)?

I haven't been following development too closely; what's the maximum packet size of an unladen swallow these days?

African or European?

a coconut!

Does it support rerouting?

It does if you tie it in to a Dovecot backend.

Via breadcrumbs, oddly enough.

> the imminent collapse of the economy and our National Health Service.

The NHS is already fucked. Loosing all those staff is genuinely going to kill people.

The NHS has already lost 10,000 staff. The training organisations haven't seen more students signing up - some saw significantly fewer.

Hunt's plan to forbid access to A&E unless you've been referred shows how desperate the situation is.

People are already dying due to lack of funding. Have a chat with NHS doctor or nurse.

Proof EU isn't needed, free market will fix everything

Brighton is a pretty nice place to live.

You sir have won the thread ;-)

I've been thinking about it for a bit. I'm not affected by Brexit (Commonwealth citizen), but my partner will be (EU/Italian).

I think it's going to be a bit overblown. It's easier for EU tech employees to move their lives, than it is for London tech companies to up and move elsewhere. Because of this, I theorise that there will be an intermittent period where there will be a labor shortage in London, due to lack of EU workers to supplement the demand in London tech. This will balance out with time, with EU companies moving more of their offices out of London.

I think we have started to see this already, at my gig, we have found it quite difficult to get decent candidates through the door, and anecdotally a lot of our better candidates have been from the EU. We are about 50% Londoners, 30% EU, 20% World.

I'm a UK citizen contracting for London investment banks by day, and bootstrapping evenings and weekends. I'm looking forward to the London labour shortage. Regulatory driven work keeps piling up in banks, Brexit will only add to that, and short supply in the dev market will send contract rates through the roof. And if we get a really hard Brexit, and EU citizens are compelled to leave, then contracting day rates will be stratospheric!

I'm not at all criticising the parent post for the opportunity that they see in Brexit.

However, increased costs from complying with new legal systems and a shortage of skilled labour pushing up prices are two ways in which the average person will experience Brexit as a bad thing.

(Though personally I think the economic costs are not the most important aspects of Brexit.)

Ha ha. I work in a similar line to you.

Once that has all died down hopefully there will be some Scottish Independence work or something :-)

Sadly I started contracting too late to get in on the Y2K bonanza.

Every time I go for a new role I get asked "Have you worked on a regulatory project before?" Er, where have you been? Have there been any non-reg projects in the last five years?

That's an interesting point. Never let a good crisis go to waste (cf. Naomi Klein's 'Shock Doctrine'). I guess it's also an opportunity for Govtech startups (that said they need to develop solutions for ~5 different types of outcomes).

I think there'll be a big rise in near-shore work. I've worked at companies in the past with either direct satellite offices in eastern Europe, or just simple sub-contracting to an outsource firm.

The difference between a team of 6 UK/EU devs living in London, vs. 6 EU devs remote working from Poland isn't that much. It's a little trickier to manage, but is cheaper in terms of living expenses and therefore salary.

So far from Brexit bringing back jobs to the UK, it'll just drive away anything that can be done remotely.

This means that the companies will probably still stay in London, but the jobs will go elsewhere.

Yup. Unless May adds some stiff penalty for doing this (which is its own problem)... this is exactly what will happen.

There is a significant potential issue that might put off certain types of tech company considering the UK though only indirectly related to Brexit: encryption.

The EU is making motions towards privacy protection (see https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/19/eu-outlaw... amongst other similar proposals) where the UK under May and Rudd seems to be wanting to move towards the China model (if the government can't read it, it is illegal).

If that intent remains then once we split there will be a stark difference that will be of concern to any companies who handle (or intends to handle) private data & communications as it will put off their potential userbase.

I doubt this will make existing companies (including startups) move right now, or in the foreseeable future, but it may make brand new startups consider forming elsewhere or existing EU companies think twice if they were considering some form of a UK branch.

There are other concerns with regard to the unclear future of free trade which will have an effect too. But you have to consider the extra hassle of setting up elsewhere: an entrepreneur living in the UK will experience greater "startup friction" trying to setup elsewhere (as they'll have to move at least some of their life) which might be more disadvantageous in the short term.

If enough technical people move for similar reasons then we'll see a skills shortage that will put tech startups off, but that is a much longer term matter.

I note that you mention "EU staff" not "UK staff" - if you are meaning to specifically exclude UK workers with that wording then the growth of people wanting to move may be due to the apparent glut of racist behaviour in the few months following the vote.

(EU national in London) Not at all. I think the doomsday threats are overblown and the negotiating parties will reach a mutually beneficial deal at the 11th hour.

Much more concerned about the possibility of the current Labour party gaining power actually.

I think the chances of a deal are about 70% and trending lower.

The only fudge that can work at the 11th hour is staying in the EU in all but name; there is no way the EU can agree to something non-disruptive quickly without risking it continuing on indefinitely, which means it needs to be almost identical to what went before. And I don't think the Tories can sell that to either the public or their own membership.

A mutually beneficial deal will never happen; the UK cannot come out of Brexit better than before. Any mutual benefit can only come after the UK has climbed out of a pit scary enough to put off any further risk of countries leaving.

If public opinion on Brexit changes, then it might be different. I don't see that happening yet though, and the risks all seem to be on the downside - painting the EU as intransigent and punishing.

> If public opinion on Brexit changes, then it might be different. I don't see that happening yet though

I think it might. Polls on the subject have been tightening, and even showing signs of moving towards halting leaving[1].

I think as more of the leave voters die off (as they were predominantly older voters), and realisations about the actual real-world consequences of leaving filter through to the public consciousness, the process may be halted, softened, or reversed.

That's mostly conjecture (and hope, honestly) on my part, though.

[1] https://twitter.com/MSmithsonPB/status/918740988365074432

Yeah, I spent most of last year having thoughts like this about Trump becoming president. He'll never get nominated.... he won't win.... yeah but surely something will happen at the 11th hour, he can't possibly become president, it's too crazy...

And now look where we are. I'm not sure your optimism is warranted. We're living in strange times.

US economy is doing pretty well under Trump, no?

No, the US stock market is doing pretty well. These are different things.

That’s not how economics works. The economy was depressed due to the election year (uncertainty) and bounced back.

Any additional growth is mostly attributable to Obamaera policy (tho some short term juicing of markets has happened under Trump occasionally).

Trump has done almost nothing to change it. It's doing well because of Obama.

We're coming up on a year of record highs. How long does one have to wait until a President is allowed to take credit?

People should describe a policy, and a means for that policy to have made a difference to the economy, when taking credit. Otherwise it's like taking credit for the sun rising.

At the very least until their first budget goes into effect. This is not a new concept. It's why the stupid right wing memes in like.. April were all "Obamas first 100 days vs Trumps first 100" - because Obama was dealing with the freaking recession and the Bush policies and budget.

Again - this is not new.

> How long does one have to wait until a President is allowed to take credit?

Depends on whether the hearer likes or dislikes him.

Economic growth is not the only reason to live in a country.

This is wishful thinking, to put it mildly. What on earth concerns you about a labour government?

Aside from tolerance for Antisemitism, being soft on Russia, picking and choosing on human rights (e.g. Syria), and appealing to base instincts on immigration (Eastern Europeans are keeping your wages down), what's so bad about Corbyn-led Labour?

Antisemitism: mainstream Labour isn't antisemitic, that was largely a point pushed in our right media to discredit them. The left wing of the party is definitely anti-Israel though, and pro-Israel forces always try to conflate the two. The Labour party is much, much less racist than the Tory party on average, it's the sort of thing that's hard to prove with a neat fact you just have to spend time in a pub with either side or read a lot of their literature for dog-whistles. soft on Russia: who knows, it's not like we have the military clout for it to matter much picking and choosing on human rights: doesn't everyone immigration racism - no, Corbyn's message (that i also disagree with actually) is to redirect the focus onto exploitative employers. It's his talking point on immigration along with NHS staffing, every time. The labour party has gotten worse on this but they're still miles behind the Tories

Sorry to do politics on HN but this post needed to be called out, none of these points are a combination of relevant and applying more to Labour than the Tories.

Don't all of those apply to conservative party as well? (Perhaps substitute Islamophobia for antisemitism)

Yes, yes they do. Except more so.

Oh I see. It's Corbyn's right-wing credentials that put you off him. Of course.

I'm neither left nor right. Corbyn manages to bring together the worst of both worlds.

It doesn't matter how left-wing a politician appears to be, or even how left-wing they are in general; if they hold an odious reactionary opinion, they can be called out on that opinion.

Taxes are concerning. More taxes on the medium-upper class.


The Daily Mail isn't even an acceptable source on Wikipedia let alone on HN.

Okay. But is The Guardian acceptable in your political view?


Meh, that is not a critique of Corbyn as a Marxist, it's using communism as a scare word without delving into what Marxism actually is and why Corbyn matches the definition. Do you have a critique by someone who actually knows what Marxism is?

I can find plenty of descriptions of many politicians as Fascist (and usually better researched than this), doesn't mean most of them are.

Specifically that article is by Damian McBride, who was Gordon Brown's SPAD. It's continuation of a political brawl by means of a newspaper column. Not a very nice chap:

"On 11 April 2009, he resigned his position after it emerged on a political blog that he and another Labour Party advisor, Derek Draper, had exchanged emails discussing the possibility of disseminating rumours McBride had fabricated about the private lives of some Conservative Party politicians and their spouses. The emails from McBride had been sent from his No. 10 Downing Street email account."

Chris Dillow is a good read on this topic


I didn't say anything about my political view. I said the Daily Mail is not acceptable as a source in Wikipedia. Which it is not.

In this case there are plenty of sources saying the same thing so it does not make sense to shoot the messenger.


A web search doesn't count as research. No reputable journalist in the UK genuinely believes that Corbyn is a marxist.

It's lazy 'googling' about 'facts' that landed America with Trump.

A web search is not meant to count as research, it is the equivalent of a library catalogue search. You're meant to follow the links and find out what is written on the subject. It is the internet equivalent of a literature study and as such a form or research. The assumption here is that the reader is intelligent enough to be able to separate authoritative sources from hearsay and agenda-based publications.

By the way, using terms like "no reputable journalist" is called "Master suppression technique" or "domination technique" [1]. It is detrimental to having a fact-based discussion and generally seen as a cop-out for those who don't have real arguments to add to the discussion.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_suppression_technique

> negotiating parties will reach a mutually beneficial deal at the 11th hour

Compare with the situation of Greece. There was essentially very little change in the EU position, and Greece eventually realised they had no leverage and would be worse off outside the EU and had to acquiesce.

The only deals that have a chance of happening are "forget the whole thing, no Brexit" or maybe "Norway" (EEA including free movement, but no voting rights). "No deal" would be a disaster.

And if it's left until the 11th hour plenty of companies will have no choice but to avoid planning beyond that time. Like Ryanair pointing out that they can't take bookings without knowing what legal framework will be in place: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/11/ryanair-chief-mic...

Addendum: this article by Gordon Guthrie, Erlanger and former extremely minor politician, sums up the lack of choice: https://medium.com/@gordonguthrie/no-deal-wont-happen-e185f9...

The 11th hour is already at hand. Some pretty big players are ready to trigger their contingency plans if certainty about future remains unclear: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/04/eu-transiti...

Minor politician, ya cheeky git ;-)

(EU national living in UK). I was ambivalent on working at the headquarters (here in Birmingham) or in remote, and actually started looking for a house here.

Thankfully I waited until after the referendum. The ensuing social, political, and economical confusion was convincing enough. I bought a house not far from my hometown, somewhere in southern Europe. I'll move there after some major renovation, some time next year.

I might be biased, but I realized in the few years I lived in the UK that the services, health care, and general quality of life are overall better down there than up here. I obviously have only anecdotal proof of that.

On a positive note, it has been very instructive so far to live in the country where this is happening, and especially in an area that voted in favor of leaving.

> I might be biased, but I realized in the few years I lived in the UK that the services, health care, and general quality of life are overall better down there than up here. I obviously have only anecdotal proof of that.

You said you live in Birmingham. It's not a city known for it's fantastic services, health care, and quality of life. The UK is a very varied place in all of these metrics. I've known and worked with many EU nationals who've come to the UK, lived and worked in one place for a few years, and formed a strong opinion on things. You might not have a complete perspective.

Well, that clears the doubt on whether I'm biased or not ;-) Birmingham is the only UK city I've lived in.

Still, Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK, so its low quality of life affects a large number of people. Moving to a place like York or Oxford is infeasible for many.

This is odd because quality of life is usually ranked pretty high in Birmingham.

I'll move to London in about one month from Berlin, because YOLO and they will have a deal anyways.

In addition, those Brexit fears are overblown. UK leaves EU and apparently it's doomsday. Did it ever matter to anyone who considered a move there, that US/Canada/Norway/Israel/Australia/NZ/Switzerland/.. has never been part thereof? Was it a consideration in your decision? I bet it was not.

The key difference is exactly that those have never been part of the EU.

The problem isn't so much that the UK is leaving the EU but that the current government as well as other prominent Brexit figures don't have the foggiest idea how they're going to proceed. They have neither vision nor plan (other than "strong and stable", whatever that's supposed to mean) and that's quite a bit unsettling.

The UK hasn't been conducting its own trade negotiations for decades now. They neither have the time nor the personnel required for having trade agreements in place by the time the UK is supposed to leave the EU if everything goes according to plan. It's not even clear if the UK can - as is commonly stated - easily fall back to WTO rules in case no agreement comes to pass because while the UK is member of the WTO that membership currently is contingent on its EU membership.

So, while Brexit might not spell doomsday for the UK this completely haphazard approach of dealing with it doesn't exactly bode well either.

> They have neither vision nor plan (other than "strong and stable", whatever that's supposed to mean)

Sounds exactly what my current government (Merkel) is successfully doing for years now.

The difference is that Merkel's main plan is to keep Germany plodding along more or less the path it's already on while May's goal is to head full speed off the path they're own, into the woods, and hoping that they'll find a new path on the other side.

But Germany doesn't have to negotiate with other countries, they only have to coordinate within the EU.

UK leaves EU and apparently it's doomsday.

UK leaving the EU isn't the main problem. UK leaving the EU in such a bizarrely unstructured and chaotic way without any plan in place is the problem.

How would one leave the EU if not via well-publicized popular vote and subsequent wind-down period? People only think it's chaotic and without plan because they assumed the vote wouldn't pass.

The leaving party should have well thought-out positions for the exit negotiation.

What happens to EU citizens living the in the country that wants to leave, and vice versa? What kind of international agreements and contracts should replace what the EU provides? What about obligations to retirement funds of (former) EU employees?

There's a myriad of other questions to discuss, and given the number of states involved, two years is a very short time frame to settle them.

The reporting I heard about the current brexit negotiations might be biased, but I get the impress that the British government doesn't even seem to have well-defined positions on most of these issues, which slows down the negotiations.

No, it's because our civil service did no planning for this (in fact were explicitly not allowed to), have no infrastructure or skilled employees to negotiate it, and are fighting a constant battle of trying to inject the economic reality of Brexit into the heads of our MPs who refuse to hear it for political reasons. You can be for or against Brexit but if the rulers are pretending that it's not going to hurt if we lose trade access then we are in big trouble. Source - I know a civil servant who worked on EU stuff.

People assume it's without a plan because there isn't a plan. It's still not clear what the government actually wants out of Brexit, and there were at least two Leave campaigns with very different and mostly fictional manifestoes.

> Was it a consideration in your decision?

Yes, it was a very big part of my decision when moving to London that I didn't need a Visa to work here, contrary to the country I was residing in before.

Yes it was a big part of my decision that I was free to change job, that I wasn't linked to an employer, that I didn't need to renew said visa it every X year, that my spouse could work with the same rights as me, etc.

> Did it ever matter to anyone who considered a move there, that US/Canada/Norway/Israel/Australia/NZ/Switzerland/.. has never been part thereof?

The difference is that all those countries have lots of international agreements that make trade and travel rather easy.

The UK doesn't have that many international contracts with other EU states directly, because such matters have been handled by the EU. A "hard" brexit would throw back such matters by more than twenty years, and concern many of UK's most important trading partners.

I think the FUD is overdone also - whilst the UK has its problems, it is a wealthy, advanced nation and still an important part of the global economy, and will still have plenty going for it outside the EU.

Can I ask why you decided to move from one of the cheapest startup-cities in EU to the most expensive one?

When you moved to US/Canada/Norway etc., you have secured your right to be there. Meanwhile, (depending on the details), Brexit can take away your right to work/stay in the UK.

Any thoughts on London vs. Berlin? I've considered one or the other from time to time.

Do you realize the difference that just visas and work permits make?

Yes I do. But I also know that if I commit to something, applying for a visa is an effort that's acceptable. Some years ago, I wanted to go to the US for a while and guess what - I got a visa and made it work.

Obviously there will still be lots of people who are committed to move to London and they will still move to London. The interesting thing will be what people who have gotten equally interesting job offers in several different cities and with no strong preference between the cities will do.

Anectdotally I've heard of ARM an loosing entire team to Brexit. And being forced to open up a micro office in the teams country of origin.

Brexit is real, big players are feeling the pain.

If their loyalty is so shallow, let them go, train up some people that aren't so fickle.

Loyalty? Why would anybody be loyal to a country that's using them as pawns in negotiations, that's filled their lives in the UK with so much uncertainty and stress?

Loyalty is hard earned, and easily lost. We've (the UK) decided to throw away people's loyalty.

But come on though, the flipside of bringing in skilled migrants is that it enables employers/elites to maintain the status quo of not investing in the futures of British people - unless of course those people are members of the ruling class, in which case their entrance to Oxbridge, tasty internships etc. is more or less guaranteed.

Though the left tried to stifle this fact for years, it's now generally accepted that immigration has suppressed the wages of native British workers. Surely we should be more concerned about solving any skills shortage by training up the people that are here already? Or should we just throw them on the scrapheap and import cheap migrants? I don't often get roused to anger by debates like this but when it seems like immigrants are being privileged over native Brits it does seem like a pretty massive pisstake.

That whole region, from Grenoble France through Zurich and into Munich is also just really hot right now. Tens of thousands of world class talented engineers and recent science grads. Coupled with the alpine idyll locales. the general atmosphere of Gemütlichkeit. Who wouldn't want to relocate there! Kinda longing for it myself on this cloudy NYC morn ;)

Personally I'm a bit scared of France and Germany what with recent terrorist attacks and mass immigration. Also these areas aren't cheap and Switzerland has a reputation of being pretty closed to outsiders. London obviously has terrorism problems also, but none of the places you mention come close to it in terms of global repute.

> Personally I'm a bit scared of France and Germany what with recent terrorist attacks and mass immigration

as a french, this is so overblown. You've got much more chance getting shot in the US than in France.

Recent stats give 7800 murders in the US (only by gunshot!) since the beginning of the year, vs 729 overall murders in France:

* https://www.planetoscope.com/Criminalite/1416-meurtres-par-a...

* https://www.planetoscope.com/Criminalite/1201-homicides-comm...

I will give an alternative explanation why people fear terrorism:

Falling from a ladder also kills more people than terrorism, right, but this is not what people are afraid of. Watch this to understand that we're talking about two different distributions: https://youtu.be/9dKiLclupUM?t=367

Terrorism SUDDENLY increases the odds of you being killed by it. And that is what - rightfully - scares people. Example: Before 9/11 the chances of being killed by terrorism was let's say 0.000000.....1%. After 9/11 the chance SUDDENLY increased a hundredfold. That change in probability never ever happened in the distributions of car-accidents, being shot in the US or falling ladders.

> Personally I'm a bit scared of France and Germany what with recent terrorist attacks and mass immigration.

In 2017, 14 injured and 3 dead due to terrorists according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in...

In contrast, 329 people were killed on French roads in June 2017 (3469 killed in 2016 total) (https://www.thelocal.fr/20170724/france-road-deaths-in-june-...)

Your risk assessment is v.poor.

Not just poor but absent entirely more likely. Or rather based entirely on the sentiment of popular news media. I watch the BBC sometimes and they make it seem as though if you visited India you'd get raped as soon as you exit the airport. If you visited the USA you wouldn't make it out of the airport, shot dead at the baggage claim. If you visit Brazil, you'd dance around carnival style. When based on violent crime stats from these places, the first two are orders of magnitude safer than South America. With the terrorism stuff, it's just weird, as long as it wasn't a middle eastern looking person doing the killing, it's not something to be worried about even if more people were killed.

2015 and 2016 in France averaged at over about 120 people killed in terrorist attacks per year. That's of course less than people killed in traffic, but it's still an extra threat to you that is (can be) constantly on your mind.

The absolute murder count in France is 10 times terrorism figure per year.

The murder rate is less than a third that in the US and twice that in Germany. Are these really levels of threat that people worry about.

I'm guessing a lot of murders go down among gangsters and within bad neighborhoods. Terrorism, on the other hand, deliberately targets places where middle class (and tourists) congregate.

Exactly, all you have to do is read about what really went down in the Bataclan, and which the French government tried to suppress. Only for those with a strong stomach.

As I've said below, do you know what really happened in the Bataclan? If so you seem remarkably blithe.

> 2015 and 2016 in France averaged at over about 120 people killed in terrorist attacks per year.

In the entire rest of the 21st century (2000-14, 2017), the total was 25 killed. 1980-99 only had 86 killed. Sure, you can pick the two single worst years to try and make your case but it's intellectually dishonest.

If you're scared of mass immigration, you're going to be terrified by London...

I don't live in London, and fwiw I think the capital illustrates well the failure of multiculturalism in the UK - increasing ghettoisation and insularity of immigrant communities, to the point where some live for decades in the UK without learning English. Is this desirable? I would argue it's a recipe for disaster, and in HN style, here's some directly relevant evidence: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_explo...

I'm quite happy living in the country - little chance of getting enriched by a truck of peace out here, fingers crossed.

> Personally I'm a bit scared of France and Germany what with recent terrorist attacks and mass immigration

Let me cite some numbers:

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested... "According to estimates from the 2013 ACS, the U.S. immigrant population stood at more than 41.3 million, or 13 percent, of the total U.S. population of 316.1 million. Between 2012 and 2013, the foreign-born population increased by about 523,000, or 1.3 percent."

According to https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/01/11/germany... the "mass immigration" to Germany in 2015 was about 890k, which with a baseline population of about 82 Million is less than 1.1%. And that was the peak, and has radically declined since then.

I don't have any numbers present right now, but I'm pretty certain that mass shootings in the USA have a higher death toll per capita than terrorism in western Europe.

Update: According to [1] the US has 30 death per 10k population per year from mass shootings. [2] finds 22 death from terrorism in Germany in 2016 noteworthy high, which equates to ... well, you don't even have to do the math to see how much lower it is.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604 [2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4052696/Germany-s-ye...

You are comparing increase in total population to increase in foreign born population. If you convert both to use the same terms, one number is more than 6 times bigger than the other.

Why do you think Switzerland is very close to outsiders? 25% of people living in Zurich don't have a Swiss passport. It is actually the most international city in Europe (everybody thinks it's London but it's not).

If you have an EU-passport, you can just move here and start looking for a job. If you can code, you can shoot me an email, and I can try to help. (I run coderfit.com, a tech-recruiting agency in Zurich)

I'm going on what a mate said - she went out with a Swiss guy for years and said they weren't very accepting. Perhaps that's just the countryside though. Kind offer, trapped with a mortgage for the moment.

Not at all. Especially if the free trade and free movement agreements stay in place, or are expanded (EFTA, Schengen). These are not the same thing as the EU.

In fact, smart businesses will new open offices in UK (outside of EU), just to hedge their bets on the future. Buy low, sell high.

The UK is not in Schengen now, and it would be perverse to try and join, or become associate members of, Schengen after Brexiting.

Being in the EFTA would mean continuing to obey EU legislation, continued freedom of movement and paying money into the pot, ie. everything the Brexit campaign was against.

So, no, those agreements will likely not remain in place. The EU wil not agree to give the UK all the benefits of EU membership without the costs.

There may be other benefits to Brexit, but it will not be the case that Brexit will be good because the UK will negotiate a deal that, of itself, is better than the current deal the UK gets.

> Being in the EFTA would mean continuing to obey EU legislation, continued freedom of movement and paying money into the pot, ie. everything the Brexit campaign was against.

Not everything. For some people it was about symbolic sovereignty, or even about the legal structure.

> Not at all. Especially if the free trade and free movement agreements stay in place, or are expanded (EFTA, Schengen). These are not the same thing as the EU.

Those are pretty big "ifs," don't you think?

> Especially if the free trade and free movement agreements stay in place

You appear to be reading different newspapers than I do. They are all reporting "forget it" to these options.

You're right of course. In the end, politics is all about power. With vindictiveness a big part of it -- a more powerful and venerable strategy than mere economic rationality.

Where power originates with people, manipulating the general opinion is the ultimate source of power. Ever heard of "bank runs"? It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy -- once you manage to scare enough people, you can shape reality. Healthy banks fall. Threads like "Should I leave the UK because of Brexit?" pop up.

What I'm saying is there is (as in, must necessarily be) very little implications of "Brexit", technically speaking. What will really happen is all about what people's emotions make it to be, which are in turn shaped by whose PR prevails.

> (as in, must necessarily be) very little implications of "Brexit"

On the contrary, it is necessary for the EU as a political project that there are negative implications of Brexit, and that those negative implications are perceived by everyone.

OK, but isn't that what I said? Where is the "contrary"?

> must necessarily be) very little implications of "Brexit", technically speaking

How (what mechanism) is this a necessity?

Presumably inertia.

Bureaucracies are not productive enough to enact changes like Brexit in a short amount of time.

Europe will need to determine exactly the ruleset which they believe will apply to UK imports/exports, and it will be extremely costly and slow to make any significant changes, since whatever is decided will need to flow down to multiple agencies.

Consider, for example, the cost of rewriting lots of technology to support a new arrangement for the UK. Can it be done in 2 years, 4 years, 6 years in every single country that the UK trades with?

It will be easier to have arrangements to continue with what we have for now and then to grandfather in what already exists at some point.

(This is just my layman's perspective and it's based entirely on intuition so I could be completely wrong!)

> Especially if the free trade and free movement agreements stay in place

But isn't that what membership of the EU gives the UK today? So give up the membership, you give those up to. It's kind of the whole point of the EU.

Unfortunately not. Not even close. EU is a political union -- it subsumed the European Economic Community and (partially) the Schengen Agreement and gradually added a lot of political centralization on top.

Scary how people equate those, without understanding the (monstrous) difference.

If the EU is a political union, how come we don't have pan-European parties and elections yet? And a centralized budget? And common taxes? And common defense? I'm sorry but it is not even close to being a political union, unlike the USA for example.

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic (it's hard to tell on the internet), but just in case:

All the things you list have either been already implemented in the EU, or their implementation is being actively discussed.

The gradual loss of sovereignty (the so-called "salami method") is also what prompted many people to vote for Brexit. Not everyone was a knuckle-dragging racist.

The UK was never in Schengen and will leave EFTA.

This is tricky as half of the premise of Brexit was to not allow free movement.

Meanwhile in Spain... lots of companies are leaving Catalonia for exactly the same reason. The fear to be excluded from the EU and the permanent feeling of uncertainty


In the last two weeks around 400 big and medium companies (national and international) changed their tax domicile from Barcelona to other Spanish cities (Valencia, Malaga, Bilbao or Madrid). Including the biggest catalonian banks, and six of the seven catalonian companies in Ibex 35.

Could happen the same in UK? Nobody knows, but when it starts other companies will follow. No matter what they say now. If we can learn something from this smaller simulation of brexit is that money hates troubles and can run faster than politicians.

Not because of Brexit itself but more because of how incompetently they're handling it thus far and the implications of that:

1. No certainty that our customers will remain here or that they'll keep buying. We're seeing larger customers slow down spending.

2. No certainty that we can hire the right people from wherever we need to.

3. Little hope that the government will act in a pragmatic, pro-business manner (in fact, red-tape and the corporate tax burden is all but certain to rise for anyone who's not a large multi-national). HMRC (the tax man) are on some crusade to impose some MTD (Making Tax Digital) program and some other disasters on business, tightening up rules on the use of independent contractors, etc. This is not the government showing flexibility, this is the government going about business as usual whilst squabbling over what Brexit means and leaving the economy unattended.

Making Tax Digital's aim is to massively simplify tax returns (including VAT returns) for both individuals and businesses. It's whole aim it reduce time it takes dealing with taxes and give a live overview of tax obligations rather than waiting until the end of the financial year (or longer) to find out what you owe.

I don't understand how any of that can be considered contentious especially as it's been pushed back to beyond April 2019 for roll out?

Quarterly 'summary' accounts for small businesses that will almost certainly require software and incur penalties if made late or with mistakes.

Asking your average market stall trader or a small retail shop to now require that they keep their management accounts up-to-date quarterly (when at the moment it needs to be done annually and the average accountant charges several hundred ££) is why its contentious.

Edit: here is a short summary from CIoT: https://www.tax.org.uk/policy-technical/technical-news/makin...

No. The rhetoric and threats are off the scale for both sides at the moment. What gets missed in the (profitable) news din is that UK Gov has all but guaranteed EU folk can stay in the country as before.

This has been reiterated since day one. EU citizens will have a right to stay and UK Gov will do absolutely everything they can to see that through. The only reason they cannot put it to paper yet is they are waiting for reciprocacy from the EU. Once the EU agrees to provide UK in EU with exactly the same rights as the UK is offering them, it will go down in law.

There is so much bluster and threats from all sides. It takes a bit of digging and close examination to see what really is being said and offered.

> The only reason they cannot put it to paper yet is they are waiting for reciprocacy from the EU. Once the EU agrees to provide UK in EU with exactly the same rights as the UK is offering them, it will go down in law.

You have it the wrong way around. The EU negotiation team proposed for all EU nationals (EU in the UK, and UK in the EU) to keep the same rights first, and the UK replied with a much worse deal.

> Once the EU agrees to provide UK in EU with exactly the same rights as the UK is offering them

Will EU do this though? Seems strange to allow UK both to be in and out of the EU at the same time.

There are 3.2M EU citizens in the UK, and 1.2M UK citizens in the EU. So it makes sense for the EU27 to offer reciprocity.

The government and companies based in the UK always complain about skills shortages and how the free movement of people helps to alleviate that problem. They've been saying this for the last 25 years and have done nothing to ease the situation by investing in training or education. Its just easier for them to import staff.

I feel London's a bit like Rome or Athens in as much as were a rich elite living off the back of a massive pool of slave labour, or cheap imported labour in this case.

Brexit is only going to have a short term effect on the tech sector, we'll still let highly skilled labour in and probably give them generous tax incentives to stay personally and at a corporate level.

Anecdotal evidence and mass media will lead you astray, best to look at the numbers. VC investment in the UK since Brexit is ~$2.5B, about 2x that of Germany and 3x France.

This is true. Follow the money, ignore media noise. And if you follow the money it seems that a lot of investors are cautiously optimistic about brexit.

Yes, good idea. Follow the money, not where others try to point you.

Thinking like that will make you a wise investor.

Interesting, local VCs or FDI? Do you have a link?

I have just moved to Berlin a month ago. If you have no family/other commitments in UK, I feel the threshold of reasons to leave UK has been crossed already.

Along those lines, I have always wondered why tech salaries I see advertised for the UK seem so depressed (£40k-£50k) compared to the USA (typically > $100k). Is it because of EU labor mobility? If so, will Brexit push tech salaries up to USA levels?

In London, many (most?) experienced people do contracts at £100k+ per year.

Can confirm; at least for myself and a handful of others I know.

In general cost of living is lower in London than major US cities like SF, NYC, Boston. For example, the cost of rent in SF is on average 30.96& higher than in London. Groceries 62% higher!


The numbers look less impressive with Boston, which isn't a particularly cheap city. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

You're right, they aren't as impressive. But as a current resident in Boston, I'd say that this isn't my reality. See my comment below for details, but outside of petrol, which is criminally cheap here, everything else at least feels more expensive than in the UK.

Internet and TV ~1.5x as expensive. Mobile phone plan ~2x as expensive. Simple things like fresh fruit and veg at least 1.5x. Utilities ~2x as expensive.

I mean, I feel like part of that is that part of that is how small a part of metro Boston Boston itself is. I live outside of the city and the city is crazy expensive to me. I haven't spent time in the UK though.

Although, that said, we can keep going down the line and look at cities like Raleigh or Austin where wages are not that much lower than here and prices are way lower. Definitely have been tempted by that at times.

SF seems to be one of the costliest cities of the West Coast. Does London compare favorably to other coastal cities? (In the EU, London has a reputation for being expensive)

London is definitely an expensive city, but as a UK citizen currently living in Boston, I can certainly attest to the cost of living being higher here. That goes for many categories: phone plans, internet, cable tv, groceries, utility bills, rent. All higher. For my two bedroom apartment in Boston I'm currently paying 3x my mortgage on a three bedroom house in Oxford, Uk, which is one of the most expensive cities in the country.

The data seems to be suggest that Boston is reasonably comparable to London[1]. This isn't my experience though.


And London is insanely expensive compared with the rest of the UK!

I previously lived in Oxford, which is the least affordable city in the UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/uk-least-affordable-...

Salaries were always (since I moved to the US in 1996 anyway...) roughly 2x the numeric value. So your UKP 50K == USD 100K comparison sounds right.

In my experience however this does not translate to actually being twice as wealthy :(

For one thing, UK employees don't need to fund their own healthcare nearly as much as US ones do.

Not sure I see the connection. The employer in the US pays most of the healthcare costs, not much comes out of your paycheck.

And in the NHS, healthcare costs are paid via taxes, which means less take home money. So in fact, you'd expect UK wages to be higher to make up for it.

As well as the factors below, there is a large onshore/offshore sector in the UK. Not sure if this is bigger than the US but there are a lot Wipros, Tata, InfoSys etc in the UK and they move Indian staff to the UK.

Funny I always thought the US salaries were inflated, especially for grads. Not sure why they are so high, is it cost of living?

US incomes in general are extremely high at the median compared to all other developed nations save a few. The only comparables are nations like Australia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland.

The median full-time job in the US pays around $45,000. That median person has no four year degree and is not living in a coastal city.

The demand is there, is I guess the most obvious reason. I don't think companies are paying good salaries out of the kindness of their hearts.

(UK resident on a Tier 1 Tech Nation visa)

I'm waiting to see what happens. It's already done a number on my relative wealth through the pound dropping, but just going to ride it out for a bit and see how dumb the govt. is in the negotiations.

As others have said, London is so ridiculously international and concentrated with tech experience and that eases my mind a bit, but if they do crash out and things go tits-up I'll seriously look at leaving.

Yep I'm thinking of heading to Europe and to be living there on Brexit day. I reckon it'll be a reasonable time for the EU to say "OK, whoever was over here then can stay". I haven't decided where to go yet though.

Heading to Europe from where?

I wouldn't consider it now since I'm kind of settled here (house ownership, kids, etc...). Also, the London scene is so international and diverse that I don't think I'd feel at home anywhere else now.

Yes, not just because of brexit, but it was what tipped it over the edge for us. Have a few friends in tech who have left UK over the last year, more are planning to leave. We are not moving to Europe though, but to the SF area. We'll keep the R&D here for now (we are a deep tech company), and see how things with the negotiations pan out.

Not the in the UK, but in New York. I was planning to move my company and myself back to the EU where I'm from, and London specifically. An English speaking country is a must for my partner, having previously lived in Germany we found it highly stressful due to not being able to interactive with the government/landlord/accountants/lawyers etc. in English.

Brexit means I won't.

What about Ireland if English is a requirement for you?

Not a startup, but a small UK Ltd selling software services to a German company.

At the moment, selling to the EU just requires filling in VAT and EC Sales List tax forms. This paperwork is all automated by accounting software.

If selling from a UK Ltd company ever becomes a problem, it is a simple matter to create a company in an EU country so I can continue to sell services and products via that. Having residency isn't required to setup and run a company in many EU countries, so I suspect I'd be able to continue working without worry.

The only issue would be transferring over income from a foreign country in a compliant manner. If that becomes expensive, then it might be worth moving residency to a different country. But rushing to make a decision seems rather silly when the decision depends on details that haven't even been talked about yet.

I bet there will some kind of "soft exit" deal. Neither UK nor the EU can afford to be at odds with each other, so the risks of a hard Brexit are blown out of proportion. Right now it's just business as usual, threats, arrogance and political grand standing. UK will be fine.

Not really... I am not sure whether an actual "Brexit" will happen, given the recent breakdown in talks with our European counterparts. Politically, they may say that we've left Europe, but in reality, the ties are rather deep and difficult to sever (some might even compare it to chopping your own leg off!). I am looking forward to the dip in housing prices as the government flip flops on policy and interest rates begin to rise - that alone is a fairly good reason to stay in the UK! Also, from a business perspective, it's an easy place to get things going. I have a bit of experience with setting up entities in other countries, and the UK process is comparatively straightforward.

>I am not sure whether an actual "Brexit" will happen, given the recent breakdown in talks with our European counterparts.

I would say that any breakdown in negotiations means that Brexit is going to REALLLLY happen (i.e. Hard Brexit). We are on a 2 year clock and time is running out. Who knows - maybe the UK and EU will pull a rabbit out of the hat. However, I can't get my head around anyone being blasé at this stage.

I'm a Portuguese expat living and working in the UK and at the moment I'm not thinking of leaving but... It will depend on what happens in the next year or so.

I genuinely have no idea what the government is doing but I hope people such as yourself get some answers soon. I am feeling some of the limbo myself as my EU Bosses living in UK hire me.

I wish we could get rid of the whole rancid bunch of politicians, and hire some company to take care of it all with dignity.

I know a handfull of folks that already moved to germany and france. Personally I would move as well but my SO really likes her job.

(EU citizen living in UK) Yes. Brexit tipped it over the edge. Because of brexit GBP went down which become big lost for me when investing outside of GBP. Even more interesting, current startup that I am working for, decided that it's a good idea to move dev team to EU so essentially I will be working for the same company but from outside of UK.

People will follow the money. Corporation tax is likely to go down further.

Its currently 19%, lowest in the G7, and will fall to 17%


(EU national living in UK)

Yes, I want to leave. I believe in the idea of Europe and want to help it succeed.

I work in London. It used to be a great place to be if you enjoy living in an open multicultural environment with fresh ideas. Now it's turning into an old boring and way overpriced place.

I know three people who've already moved this year. Two to Germany and one back to Poland.

My startup is basically a virtual company - meaning we're all remote - but officially based in London. I could be forced to change that after Brexit, depending on the terms.

I know one person who moved back (to Poland) but even he said that Brexit was only part of the reason.

The only people I know who have moved to Europe aren't in tech.

My company isn't contemplating it in the slightest.

I'm going to get an Irish passport with a view to it possibly being relevant for future academic funding or work.

(My grandmother was born in Ireland)

UK Citizens won't be egar to move due to language barrier. UK Startups look at their market as English speaking countries. UK, USA, etc..

So we are not going to move to a none English speaking country for what? easier access to trade?... Just set up a EU based subsidiary company at a later date after launch and translation.

I dont think it's viable. Of course panicked EU citizens will return to homeland due to lack of certainty. Which is odd, that they think UK are not going to be as welcoming after brexit.

Is it really odd to not feel welcome when over half the population has voted saying that you don't belong there? It's hard to think of a less welcoming place in all of Europe right now.

Your right it is not but I certainly dont feel that was ever the case. A percentage of that 50% will want to send people home but to say "over half the population has voted saying that you don't belong there" is incorrect.

Many voted for sovereignty, not to be a star in a flag. They voted for democracy for there voice to be heard in London not a whisper in Brussles. They did not see the economic benefits that are supposed to be the cornerstone.

Where the message is confused is that many did vote to end freedom of movement suggesting unlimited immigration put downward preasure on wages. Though the message from Vote Leave (or other campaign groups) was ever to kick people out who are already here.

There are many of none-eu ethnicity that voted to leave the EU. Why can anyone from EU come? but a pakistani parent can be denied visa to live with children in UK. An issue echoed many times.

Like I was saying it is odd that this message you outline is resonating. I dont know any brexit supporter that would want to kick people out!


Hurry! Get in line for the backlash against tech companies playing politics, before it's too late.

Nope, actually moving back to the midlands since I'm fed up with London at the moment.

Already moved to Dublin!


I mean, people worked abroad also before entering the EU.

Not exactly a startup, but I had well oiled Ltd running for 10 years in London. I shut it down and I am running my business via another European country. Clients are a mix of US, UK and EU projects.

Moved out to US. Alvin5.com

No. I work as an advisor for a ton of startups and I a co-founder myself. There is no better place in Europe to be than the UK.

Out of interest - why do you consider the UK to be the best place for startups?

> There is no better place in Europe to be than the UK.

Perhaps, for now. If hard trade barriers are in place soon that status will change dramatically.

Trade barriers won't really affect digital service companies as they're not moving physical goods around.

Digital services are affected by other types of regulation though which won't really change as a result of Brexit (e.g. if you're a British online accounting company selling a version optimised for German companies).

This is an untested assumption if ever I saw one.

Regulatory barriers in many areas will affect companies much, much more than a simple fee to move goods

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