This year’s Queen’s Speech follows a tumultuous period in British politics, with Article 50 being triggered and a snap general election held, which saw the Conservative Party lose their majority and have to strike a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party in order to form a government.
The Queen’s Speech included a number of bills aimed at British businesses, with Brexit chief among the topics that industry leaders have responded to.
With that agreement yet to be finalised, the UK is facing an uncertain time. Business leaders are particularly concerned about what the period is going to mean for the country’s economy and job prospects.
The Queen’s Speech was widely considered to be a welcome address to business, with industry organisations responding positively.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “It’s good to see that the recent heatwave has warmed the government’s view of business and its contribution to people’s lives.”
Brexit was foremost in the thoughts of bodies representing British business, with Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), saying that his organisation was “pleased with the ambition to provide certainty for businesses as we head towards Brexit”. He went on to say that a “thriving small business community” will be vital to a strong post-Brexit economy.
Meanwhile, Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that although Brexit may not be the top priority for many businesses, all firms want to avoid “turbulence and confusion during the Brexit transition”.
He said that the government’s proposed bills on trade, customs and immigration have to “minimise adjustment costs and maximise opportunities”. Dr Marshall explained that achieving this will require continuous engagement with business communities across the UK.
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, explained that his organisation was not expecting to receive more details about Brexit than were given. He did say, however, that business leaders will be “pleased to see the tighter focus on the most immediate challenges”.
Mr Martin added that there was “a welcome change of tone” in the Queen’s Speech, which acknowledged the value of enterprise as well as the importance of including businesses in discussions about the future.
In times of change, business is particularly vulnerable. Industry leaders, therefore, called on the government to form a strong partnership with British business. Dr Marshall said companies want clear signs that “the economy is once again front and centre in political life”. He went on to say that consensus and a strong partnership between government and business is now necessary.
Posted by Jon Aspinell on 22nd June 2017
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