A mighty, Brexit-sized freeze frame has sat around the process industries for the last three years.
To what extent though has it provided an excuse rather than a justification for procrastinating over business decisions?
As with so much that derives from the EU referendum, the answer is not black and white though it is often assumed to be.
Investment in people and plant, for example, is going to be impacted heavily by when we leave and the terms upon which we depart. Granted, some companies will need to engage in a limited way ahead of this, purely in order to tread water in anticipation of a conclusion.
Yet bigger strategic commitments must be delayed.
Other matters clearly fall outside the Brexit area of direct influence. And, indeed, some come with a legal requirement to address them. Alcumus Sypol’s Mike Harris references the lack of progress currently being made by many chemical firms in addressing their obligations with regards to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.
Boris Johnson, whose stock has risen as the standing of his country has shrunk, previously expressed his impatience with manufacturers’ concerns
Here, it appears is a classic example of what we might define as Brexit stasis; a sort of ‘what if?’ paralysis, induced by the failure of elected representatives to break the political impasse but not entirely dictated by it.
Boris Johnson, whose stock has risen as the standing of his country has shrunk, previously expressed his impatience with manufacturers’ concerns for the future with the retort ‘f*** business’.
Perhaps he at least can take succour from the likelihood that many more delays for the chemical and other sectors should ensure his instruction is implemented. Or maybe he and others can instead try to exercise the leadership to which they have long aspired.
Meantime, it falls to industry to play the adult in the room, beginning with getting moving those things that it can directly influence. And perhaps then its display of activity will impact favourably upon those inert bodies that have constrained the economy for so long.