You can’t go anywhere at the moment without the word Brexit floating in the air.
Whether it’s down the pub, on your car radio, the front pages of the newspapers or on the television, Brexit has dominated the national conversation for more than three years.
While there are some who feel Britain’s exit from the European Union will cause economic hardship across the UK, there are some businesses who are really looking forward to life post-Brexit.
We’ve spoken to some of them to find out why.
Trago Mills boss Bruce Robertson, which has a large store in Newton Abbot, has been an outspoken advocate of Britain leaving the EU for many years.
He told Devon Live that he is deeply frustrated by the current “political spectacle” surrounding Brexit and believes membership of the EU “just doesn’t suit our country”.
He said: “There are a lot of young, dynamic businesses in the South West who have never known anything other than Britain being in the EU – but that doesn’t make it right.
“You can get used to standing neck high in horse manure, but it isn’t good.
“I’m old enough to remember joining the EU back in the 70s and if you look at our economy in the 10 years before we joined compared to the 10 years after, the difference is like day and night.
“After we joined, our fortunes deteriorated rapidly for many years and that is largely due to the excessive regulation and unnecessary integration of EU rules that hamper us far more than help us.”
Mr Robertson says Trago sources products from all over the world, including Europe, and believes that is unlikely to change.
He said: “Trago has always been in the vanguard of discounters and we buy from virtually any country you can point to on a map.
“My speciality is carpets and we buy a lot from companies in the EU – they know what side their bread is buttered on and they want to sell to us. That isn’t going to change.
“Bricks and mortar retail in the UK is at a very low ebb at the moment. Can it get any worse? No, I think it can only get better.
“There’s this huge myth that most of the UK’s business is conducted in the EU – it’s just not the case, the majority of it is outside.
“Like with anything, if you have a pond and throw a ruddy great brick into it, it’s going to create some ripples – but the brick will disappear almost immediately and those ripples will fade with time.
“Leaving the EU will absolutely be a positive thing, we need to chart a different course as free traders, the most successful free traders in the world.”
But it’s not just big business who think Brexit will have a favourable outcome for trade.
Steve Kingdon-Saxby runs SCL Water, a small business selling liquid pumps from a business park unit in South Molton.
The firm turns over around £500,000 a year, and while Steve admits that he voted to remain in the EU referendum, he has now changed his mind.
He said: “I was always slightly torn but overall I voted remain to avoid all the political carnage we are seeing now.
“I knew over time the EU would struggle and that some countries would probably leave, but I didn’t want us to be the first.
“Having said that, if I were asked to vote again – and I really hope I’m not – I would vote to leave.”
Steve admits that the reasons behind his change of mind are largely selfish.
He said: “We don’t sell in Europe, though some of the products we sell come from a central warehouse in Holland.
Do you think Brexit will have a positive effect on business in Devon?
Yes, it will give us a chance to take control of our own destinyNo, the EU is a powerful trade ally and removing ourselves from it will leave us worse offI have absolutely no idea
“We sell in Pounds Sterling, but because the pound has dropped against the dollar, it makes our products much more attractive to countries that use the dollar as their main exchange – which is most of the countries outside Europe.
“The countries we deal with, many of which are in Africa, have a huge amount of respect for the Brits. They like working with us and they trust us and I don’t see how Brexit can change that.
“I also respect the decision that was taken by the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU, you can’t ignore that.”
Steve said he thinks there has been “a lot of noise” from businesses that will be affected, but he believes they are the vocal minority.
He said: “Admittedly, we’ve looked at this from a selfish point of view, but to be honest, if your business only involves buying and selling within the UK then Brexit probably won’t have any effect on you at all.”
In the North Devon port of Ilfracombe you can regularly see large fishing boats moored up at the Cove unloading boxes of fish and lobster post onto the dock.
Among the largest are Sparkling Star and Our Olivia Belle, owned and operated by father and son team Scott and Danny Wharton of S&P Trawlers Ltd.
Scott, who left school at 14 to go lobster potting and build his fishing business, says that since the EU took control of fishing quotas in the 1980s his once booming industry has shrunk considerably.
He said: “It’s not a job, it’s a way of life. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs to do. With fishing, you’re a free spirit.
“We’re still got an industry, against the odds, and we’ve put everything back in to the future of this business.”
Scott said complex fishing rules overseen by the EU make the industry an “unlevel playing field”, with large quotas of UK fish allocated to countries such as Holland, Spain, France, Belgium and Iceland
He also said he is regularly forced to waste perfectly good fish due to what is called the Discard Ban.
This means Instead of returning fish inadvertently caught in the nets, or which exceed the targeted quotas, they’re required to land everything, spray it with dye and send it to landfill.
Scott said: “I don’t like doing it, no-one does. It’s appalling from a welfare point of view and a terrible waste of perfectly good fish.”
But despite these struggles, Scott believes post-Brexit Britain will allow his industry to regain control of its destiny.
“We need a tailor-made UK fishing plan. A clean Brexit has great potential to regain some fairness in the distribution of quotas to help community fishing industries.
“It could potentially double or even triple the size of the industry. For each job at sea, four or five are created on land with the fish processing business.
“At the moment, the UK vessel catch values are approx £1 billion (2018) and with the fish processing value added, increasing to approx £4 billion (2018). The EU catches 60% of stocks in British waters.
“Post Brexit, with control of quotas returned to the UK, the UK vessel catch values would be approx £2 billion, increasing to around £8 billion after processing.
“The UK fishing industry employs around 24,000 people. Post-Brexit, fishing could increase to 2% of GDP and could be worth £billions if we had our quota back. The industry could feasibly grow to employ 100,000 people.”
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, who lives in Exeter, is also a staunch Brexiteer and earlier this month compared hysteria over the subject to the Millenium Bug.
Speaking to talkRADIO he said: “This idea that if you don’t have a trade deal with the EU it will go to hell in a handcart.
“Or indeed that you must have a deal with the US. That’s just not the way it works.
“We heard the planes were not going to fly without an overarching deal, in fact, a mini-deal has been done and even Ryanair, who are massively pro-Remain, say it is no longer an issue.
“We heard the banks were going to leave and pretty well people are now saying it is no longer an issue – there are more people employed in the city than there were at the time of the referendum.
“We have done lots of deals with people around the world. We never believed for a second that the ports were going to block up in Dover.
“But we said ‘let’s just assume they do, what would we do?’ So we switched from French Brandy to Australian and American Brandy and we switched from Champagne to sparkling wine from the UK.
“All these mini-deals can get done. I am almost more worried about some, boffin from Whitehall trying to do a deal for the whole country, you are better off to leave it to Wetherspoons to organise a deal for Brandy, to Ryanair to organise the planes to fly, and so on.
“Let the individuals organise the trade, rather than try and have big brother from Government organise it. You don’t actually need a massive deal with the EU.
“If they want to have zero tariffs, I think that would be more beneficial to them than us, then let’s put it on a one-page document – we won’t charge each other tariffs.”