The December election campaign is well underway in the UK with the two main parties set to pitch their financial agendas for the country today.
Triggered and still dominated by Brexit, the campaigns will also focus on some of the big areas that have had little discussion time in the last three and a half years, namely the environment, education, healthcare and public services.
However, talks of new hospitals, infrastructure programmes and wi-fi for all won’t matter all that much for UK businesses if the departure from the European Union isn’t sorted – quickly, efficiently and, critical for most, with as little disruption within the transition period as possible.
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom spoke to Management Today this week about the incumbent government’s Brexit positioning and noted five areas in which she thought British businesses would be better off after leaving the EU. Here’s a quick look:
1 – Ability to attract international talent
Leadsom notes that Brexit will afford local businesses the opportunity to shop for the best industry talent within a global pool of candidates, supported by initiatives such as the new fast-track visa route for scientists and an extended post-study work visa for overseas university students to stay within the UK and apply their learnings within the marketplace.
2 – Lead on clean energy
The government has set ambitious targets to generate £170bn a year from green economy exports by 2030, the date by which the UK has also targeted a net-zero climate change contribution.
“As the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global climate change, we are perfectly positioned to seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner technology.”
3 – New trade agreements
Freedom from legislative alignment and EU rules would allow more flexibility to reform regulation of emerging technologies and the pursuit of free trade agreements with North America and Asia-Pacific marketplaces, particularly in the development of renewable energy, clean growth and electric vehicles – also stimulating additional foreign direct investment.
“This will give British companies the freedom to explore new markets and secure investment from every corner of the globe.”
4 – Investment
EU funding programmes, which have supported many British enterprises, will be replaced with domestic initiatives more aligned and focused on UK priorities, ‘ensuring Britain’s businesses and regions have the support they need to thrive and expand productivity after Brexit’.
5 – Fair and flexible labour market
Deregulation on worker’s rights has been cited as a real cause for concern in Boris Johnson’s current Brexit agreement with the European Union, but Leadsom says the highest standards are to be developed, including as part of the Good Work Plan.
“This will increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by strengthening workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment and increase transparency and clarity for staff and employers, taking account of modern working relationships and routines.”
Election outcome to dictate period of Brexit uncertainty
Whatever the potential benefits (and pitfalls) of Brexit, what has harmed British businesses most is the length of the period of uncertainty that’s followed the EU referendum some three and a half years ago.
The outcome of the election will likely dictate for how much longer that uncertainty continues. A majority Conservatives win would see Boris Johnson’s agreement the primary way ahead. A Labour win would see a further six months of talks with a new agreement forged and a referendum put back to the British people (with remain on the ballot paper). A Liberal Democrat win would see Brexit cancelled altogether.
Whichever the outcome, what’s paramount is UK organisations are ready. Find out more about our Brexit consultancy services and how we can help your businesses prepare for whatever the outcome.