Business groups welcome government's change in tone towards UK firms as indicated by the Queen's Speech

Tracey Boles
The Queen And Prince Of Wales Visit The Prince's Trust Centre
The Queen (Source: Getty)

The government's new conciliatory tone towards business, signalled by the Queen's Speech yesterday, has been welcomed by business groups.

Its policy document said that it intends to consult more intensively with businesses and others to "test and validate" its strategy to leave the European Union and build support among companies.

In addition, corporation tax cuts in the conservative manifesto are still slated to happen by 2020.

“This welcome change in tone needs to be backed by clarity and action now,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general.

She added: “Fast action on industrial strategy, skills and infrastructure will show that the UK is a great place to do business. But now it’s all about pace. The bills that have been outlined will go some way to providing the framework for what happens when the UK leaves the EU. What matters now is meaningful progress in the negotiations. A top priority must be to maintain the full economic benefits of the single market and customs union until a final settlement is agreed and implemented is key.”

The Institute of Directors praised the speech's tight focus on immediate challenges as well as the willingness to work with enterprise.

Its director general Stephen Martin said: “We were expecting a stripped-back Queen’s Speech and that’s what we got, but business leaders will actually be pleased to see the tighter focus on the most immediate challenges.

“There was also a welcome change of tone, clearly acknowledging the value of enterprise to the country and the importance of including businesses in discussions about what our future looks like. It is, of course, unlikely that the process of getting Brexit legislation through Parliament will be as smooth as it was presented today, but in the circumstances we were not expecting to get much more detail than we have received.

Others in the City observed that the legislative programme was “ambitious”. Miles Celic, ceo of financial services lobbying group TheCityUK, said: “The government has outlined an ambitious legislative programme, much of which is critical if we are to achieve the orderly Brexit on which rests the future success of the UK and European economies, as well as wider global financial stability.”

Paul Hardy, Brexit director, DLA Piper, concurred: "The package of Brexit legislation is ambitious. The risk of serial amendments and defeat on the hundreds of votes required to get it through make the decision to extend the normal annual parliamentary session to two years unavoidable, and the likelihood of success unknown.

“Bills on trade and customs confirm the government's intention to leave the customs union; the great repeal and immigration bills confirm its intention to leave the single market. The government has stated that it is in listening mode, so business should also consider how best to influence this legislation.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “While Brexit isn’t the top immediate priority for many businesses, firms of every size and shape want to avoid turbulence and confusion during the Brexit transition. The government’s proposed bills on trade, customs and immigration must minimise adjustment costs and maximise opportunities. Achieving this will require continuous and constructive engagement with business communities across the UK.”

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