Hear our voice as Brexit talks are hit by chaos

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / VOICES - Natalie Sykes Regional direc­tor, In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors

This time last week, our re­gion’s top di­rec­tors gath­ered in York to cel­e­brate our an­nual Direc­tor of the Year Awards. Our compere for the evening Danni Hew­son joked about the “B- word”, re­fer­ring to Brexit and Boris.

Lit­tle did we know the chaos that would un­fold over the next few days fol­low­ing the Cabi­net’s away- day at Che­quers and sub­se­quent high- profile res­ig­na­tions.

Our Direc­tor Gen­eral Stephen Martin, who was our spe­cial guest in York­shire for the awards cer­e­mony, ini­tially wel­comed the Che­quers state­ment, stat­ing “our mem­bers have wanted Cabi­net to come to­gether and put the in­ter­est of the coun­try first.”

That il­lu­sion of a united front did not even last the week­end.

Whichever way you may have read the Che­quers ‘ agree­ment’, one thing that did come through loud and clear is that our IoD mem­bers have been lis­tened to.

Firms across the UK will have seen the state­ment as a pos­i­tive step for­ward. The pro­pos­als touched on many of the com­plex is­sues re­gard­ing cus­toms, reg­u­la­tions, and the North­ern Ire­land bor­der, while also high­light­ing the im­por­tance of the UK be­ing able to de­velop an in­de­pen­dent trade pol­icy.

Now, it feels like there is more work to be done than ever be­fore to heal the rifts in our Cabi­net and reach agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union. Time is tick­ing.

Busi­nesses ur­gently need clar­ity on the fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship, so they can un­der­stand the path that lies ahead and plan ef­fec­tively.

Amid this chaos and lack of strong lead­er­ship, there has never been a more im­por­tant mo­ment for busi­ness lead­ers to make their voice heard. And not just about Brexit.

Our reg­u­lar Pol­icy Voice sur­veys, which take the tem­per­a­ture of our mem­ber­ship and in­form how the IoD lob­bies White­hall, have iden­ti­fied sev­eral ar­eas of con­cern.

While a lack of progress in Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions can im­pact on eco­nomic op­ti­mism, con­di­tions across the board have become shakier in the first half of the year, as ev­i­denced by the chal­lenges faced by our High Street re­tail­ers. This week, Pound­world an­nounced the clo­sure of 25 stores and Mother­care said it will shut 60 stores by June 2019, rather than the 50 it pre­vi­ously ear­marked for clo­sure. In the lat­ter case, that’s 100 more jobs at risk.

Some of the UK’s big­gest brands are suf­fer­ing from ris­ing costs and slug­gish de­mand. I be­lieve they need sup­port and lead­er­ship from a strong gov­ern­ment ( for ex­am­ple on busi­ness rates) to help al­le­vi­ate th­ese pres­sures. It is up to you, our busi­ness lead­ers, to en­sure that what busi­nesses need is em­braced.

We need you to be part of a strong voice for busi­ness. Please con­sider join­ing the 3,000 other mem­bers on our Pol­icy Voice panel.

The sur­vey re­sults have a real im­pact when we show them to Min­is­ters, and the more mem­bers who take part, the stronger our voice will be.

STORES TO GO:

Mother­care is lat­est vic­tim of High Street slow­down.

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