Microsoft might halt the expansion of a UK datacenter due to Brexit

Kit McDonald

Brexit continues to shape the tech industry and market in the UK. Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter spoke in the What Brexit Means for Tech webinar expressing that the Redmond giant is committed to their branches in the UK. At least, for now.

The growing concern of Britain leaving the European single market is that import tariffs will rise, according to a report from the Tech Republic. Larter explained that if the tariffs were to become an issue, Microsoft might pull their future plans for Britain’s two datacenters.

“We’re really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the datacenter example, we’re looking to build out our datacenters at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well…

If all of a sudden there are huge import [tariffs] on server racks from China or from eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our datacenters across other European countries.”

Simply put, if they cannot build in Britain, then they will build surrounding it. Currently, the data is shared freely between the EU countries without any issues. This is because they all have similar security between them. However, if the UK leaves the EU, then this could cause even more issues for Microsoft.

One upside to the Brexit for Microsoft is the ability to immigrate employees into the UK for work.

“We’ve really struggled internally at Microsoft sometimes to bring people over from the US, from China, from India. Even just on a month or by week basis, because the restrictions on immigration from outside the EU have been so severe, because we [the UK] couldn’t control immigration from inside the EU and we were conscious about the numbers.”

It remains to be seen how many of these concerns will be addressed for the tech industry. One thing is certain, Brexit is likely to change how Microsoft handles their affairs in significant ways depending on the outcome.