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Business Secretary holds first Brexit roundtable with businesses

Published: 7 August 2019 - Carly Wills

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has held her first Brexit roundtable with a range of businesses on supporting employers to prepare for leaving EU on 31 October 2019.

Meeting in Westminster on 31 July, senior representatives from businesses including Scottish Power, General Electric and BAE Systems told the business secretary how they were ready and determined to seize the opportunities of a post-Brexit Britain. They explained that while there were some concerns about readiness for a no-deal Brexit, none of the issues were insurmountable and that they were keen to take up the chance to trade both with EU member states, and countries outside the EU.

Leadsom urged the businesses present to speak with their colleagues and trade associations, to pass on the clear message that the government stands behind them and is ready to support efforts to prepare for Brexit. She also encouraged them to continue their positive approach to the future, and to talk about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Leadsom said: “We are stepping up a gear and increasing the pace of our preparations as we get ready to leave the EU on 31 October. The businesses I met with agreed that we must take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead: in innovation, new AI technologies, clean growth and the extraordinary scientific advances in which Britain is already leading the way. They also spoke about the benefits of doing away with certain EU red tape that has a strangle hold on productivity.

“While there are challenges, business leaders were optimistic and clear that none are insurmountable.

Our preparations for no-deal will now be more open than ever, giving the business community the confidence to wave the flag for Britain and to seize the myriad of opportunities that lie ahead.”

The main messages from business leaders present were:

  • Government should ramp up its communications to prepare for Brexit, welcoming the forthcoming publicity campaign to get ready to leave
  • They are well prepared for Brexit on 31 October, but that this was often not acknowledged in public debate and commentary
  • They were excited about the opportunities that lie ahead: trade with the Asian-Pacific economies; developing renewable energy, clean growth and electric vehicles; boosting foreign direct investment; and attracting the best talent from around the world
  • Brexit would provide an opportunity for colossal investment and to reform regulation of emerging technology, ensuring that Britain leads the world in big data and artificial intelligence

Leadsom also met with business representatives organisations on 1 August and will continue to meet with them on a fortnightly basis.

Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power, said: “The meeting this morning with the secretary of state was fantastic. It’s always great to have a government who come out and engage with business and listen to business and want to understand concerns and opportunities that businesses are bringing forward.”

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