THE GRIND OF BREXIT

Theresa May tries to soothe UK com­pa­nies wor­ried about de­par­ture from EU

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - El­iz­a­beth Piper

PRIME Min­is­ter Theresa May will chair a dis­cus­sion on Brexit and the econ­omy at the first meet­ing of a new busi­ness coun­cil to­day, a bid to re­build bridges with com­pa­nies con­cerned over Britain’s de­par­ture from the EU.

Af­ter los­ing the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tives’ par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity at an ill-judged elec­tion last month, May has stepped up ef­forts to en­gage with busi­ness af­ter some firms crit­i­cised her gov­ern­ment for fail­ing to ad­dress their wor­ries over Brexit.

Many com­pa­nies have urged the gov­ern­ment to push the EU to agree to a clear and lengthy tran­si­tional ar­range­ment af­ter Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 to help them make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

The meet­ing marks a shift for May, whose former aides had wanted to break what they felt was an overly cosy re­la­tion­ship be­tween big busi­ness and the gov­ern­ment be­fore her au­thor­ity was weak­ened at the June elec­tion.

“Theresa May will to­mor­row chair the first meet­ing of a new busi­ness coun­cil. This will pro­vide a di­rect link to (the coun­try’s) busi­ness on the gov­ern­ment’s Brexit strat­egy, as well as look­ing at wider is­sues such as the devel­op­ment of a mod­ern in­dus­trial strat­egy and steps to boost the na­tion’s econ­omy,” May’s spokesper­son said yes­ter­day.

Rolling ba­sis

The coun­cil would meet reg­u­larly and its cast list would change on a “rolling ba­sis to en­sure broad rep­re­sen­ta­tion across dif­fer­ent sec­tors and in­dus­tries over time,” the spokesper­son added.

Along­side the new busi­ness coun­cil, there will be reg­u­lar meet­ings with Britain’s five main trade or­gan­i­sa­tions. These meet­ings would be chaired by fi­nance min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond, busi­ness min­is­ter Greg Clark and Brexit min­is­ter David Davis to fo­cus on Brexit.

To­day, May will meet Terry Scuoler from man­u­fac­tur­ing lobby group EEF, Stephen Martin from the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors, Carolyn Fair­bairn from the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try, Mike Cherry from the Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses and Fran­cis Martin from the Bri­tish Cham­bers of Com­merce.

Ralf Speth from Jaguar Land Rover, John Pet­ti­grew from the Na­tional Grid, Paul Man­d­uca from M&G In­vest­ments, Luke John­son from Risk Cap­i­tal, Kathryn Par­sons from Decoded, Dave Lewis from Tesco, Roger Carr from BAE Sys­tems and Vi­vian Hunt from McKin­sey would also take part, the spokesper­son said. – Reuters

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Theresa May, UK Prime Min­is­ter, will to­day chair a dis­cus­sion on Brexit and the econ­omy at the first meet­ing of a new busi­ness coun­cil.

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