It’s been four long years since the UK voted to leave the EU, and us Brits have veered from a state of shock one of apathy and ambivalence, as our government’s handling of negotiations seemingly descended into chaos, eventually bordering on farce.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, Brexit was all the media could talk about, to the point we as a country were at saturation point.

But then Covid happened, and at what should have been a critical point in the British superyacht sector’s period of preparedness for its effects, everything we knew and understood went out of the window.

Since then, the very real human Covid crisis has relegated Brexit preparedness from the front pages, with it rarely discussed or debated.

But now, as this most painful of years comes to an end, and negotiations are extended beyond the point of crisis, yet again, we are just weeks away from the UK leaving the EU, and for the rich tapestry of SMEs that comprise the British superyacht sector, are we really ready? And what on earth does a post-Brexit era look like for exporters of superyacht goods and services into the major superyacht markets of western Europe?

In a recent conversation with Hannaford Turner partner, Adam Ramlugon, he highlighted the legitimate concerns British businesses will have around the potential inability to provide clients with zero-rated-VAT supplies.

“It’s the artisanal furniture-makers, the shipyards, the OEMs and so on, that are employed up and down the coast that are a more legitimate concern”, Ramlugon said. “I hope they experience no real downturn in business, but as it is we hope, and wait and see.”

While we have no doubt that Britain’s superyacht businesses have been doing their very best to prepare for a future out of Europe, they have been hampered by a both a protracted negotiating process, which has left almost no window of time to instigate plans, and a global catastrophe that has ruined even the best laid plans. 

The European superyacht market is a richly interconnected network of supply and demand, and long may that continue. But with even less certainty around the terms of Brexit than the next wave of Covid restrictions, the time for conversation and collaboration is now.

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