The 2016 vote to leave the European Union triggered the greatest period of change of our lifetime to the political, economic and business landscape and there is still no clarity as to the shape of the final Brexit deal and what this means for organisations that import and export goods and services and depend on overseas labour and European funding for key projects.
There are no words remaining to describe the frustration, impatience, and growing anger amongst business after almost three years of discussions with the unwelcome prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on March 29 seeming a likely outcome.
The myopic focus on when and if we do end up breaking up with our European neighbours has now shifted to whether Parliament has confidence in this Government. What is sure is that the entire nation is being let down by our parliamentary representatives, of all persuasions.
A further period of inactivity or political posturing in the lead up to any resultant elections, referenda or significant changes in policy direction will represent a serious risk to the nation’s economic performance.
This outpouring of political dogma is having the knock-on effect of rendering the nation almost ungoverned. Basic questions on real-world operational issues remain unanswered with no attention whatsoever being paid to the fundamentals that underpin successful economies. Digital and physical infrastructure, skills and meaningful progress with the Industrial Strategy to name just a few.
Whoever sits behind the desk in Number 10, the overriding priority for both government and Parliament must be to avoid the clear danger that a ‘no deal’ exit would pose to businesses and communities across the UK. Every second that ticks by sees more businesses spending money on unwanted changes, activating contingency plans or battening down the hatches and halting investment, as they try to anticipate a future that is no clearer now than it was in June 2016.
Rather than being dragged into the politics, taking sides or idly speculating, the Chamber’s focus on behalf of our members is on providing a toolkit of meaningful and practical advice and support once the detailed trade implications emerge while simultaneously working with the British and Scottish Chambers network colleagues to ensure the voice of business is heard by our politicians - if they are listening.