Brexit might not led to less red tape for trade, licensing expert warns

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit has had a mixed response from pub and bar operators
Brexit has had a mixed response from pub and bar operators
Leading licensing solicitor Robert Sutherland has warned that leaving the European Union might not cut down on the amount of red tape and bureaucracy facing the UK pub sector.

Read: Heading for the Brexit? How leaving the EU would impact pubs

Sutherland, who is a solicitor at Keystone Law, told the Publican's Morning Advertiser​: "I have a concern that where regulations and bureaucracy exist, bureaucrats are very good at creating further bureaucracy and regulation to replace that which existed previously.

"Far be it from removing regulation and bureaucracy, one merely changes the rules and procedures." He added that leaving the EU would not have an impact on VAT, the "greater taxation problem facing the on-trade."

Whilst this may be true the greater taxation problem facing the on trade is the situation with VAT and this is will not change whether the UK remain in or leave the EU.

There are just over two months to go before the referendum takes place on 23 June and the Brexit debate has, so far, had a mixed response from pub and bar operators.

A survey from William Reed/HIM found 39% of those working in the hospitality industry are in favour of leaving the EU but analysts have warned Brexit (a British exit from Europe) could have a serious impact on recruitment. "Whether they're for or against the idea of Brexit, pubs and licensees are currently obligated to comply with existing EU regulation, with many expressing concerns that future legislation coming directly from Brussels would be difficult to predict.

"While it is very unlikely that there will be any drastic instant changes in the area of regulation, the uncertainty of what might come next is enough to make many publicans – particularly smaller businesses, push for a departure," Sutherland said.

"Outside of alcohol-focused businesses, a recent Moore Stephens poll showed that the majority of small businesses would vote to stay in the EU because of concerns over the absence of a UK voice at the table to shape EU regulations by which the industry would still be bound, such as is to be found with Norway. It is interesting that this view is not shared by the pub industry in the UK."

Related topics: Legislation, MA500 Business Club

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