After the Brexit vote, we at Index Ventures had been operating under the assumption that the new government would be sensible and not seek to dismantle one of the best things to have happened to London over the last 20 years — namely its transformation into a premier base for entrepreneurs starting and building innovative, technology-driven businesses. So it’s deeply troubling that the status of EU nationals already living here has been put into question.
The advocates of Brexit said this was not about Britain turning in on itself; that this was about global ambition. Today, however, the world is not quite sure — every one of these small signs matters. For Britain to refuse to guarantee the status of EU residents who came here legally risks sending a message: that Britain’s new government might not welcome global talent.
Stemming the flow of talented engineers, marketers, designers and other key employees from Europe — let alone kicking out the ones who are already here — would devastate the most vibrant part of the British economy and set London back by decades. It’s not even a question of whether there is enough British talent to take their place. I suspect that young people who make up the majority of the workforce in these companies would rather join startups in Berlin, Amsterdam or Dublin than stay in a country that is turning back the clock.
Right now, every day, the most talented EU citizens are considering where to base, where to launch and where to grow their businesses. The new uncertainty over their place in Britain puts the country at a distinct disadvantage.
Index Ventures, London W1
This is an extract from the Spectator’s Letters page. To read more letters, click here.