Business leaders clear that Tory policy on Brexit is against wishes of majority

Lib Dem Business policies on Europe vs Tory policies

More than 50 business leaders have backed the Lib Dems as the only party which is “speaking for the majority of Britons” by campaigning to stay in the European single market, saying that the Conservatives policy on Brexit is bad for business, bad for the economy and against the wishes of the majority of Britons

Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks and board member of Britain Stronger in Europe, Dinesh Dhamija, the founder of the Ebookers travel site and the businesswoman Nicola Horlick are among the signatories, calling for Britain to stay in the European single market and customs union.

They have warned, in a letter to The Times, that Britain’s departure from the EU is being run by “hardcore Brexiteers” who have failed to recognise public support for staying in the single market or customs union.

The 53 signatories, who say they intend to vote Lib Dem, include senior players in the investment and IT sectors, two industries that could be hit by a poor Brexit deal. They represent small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than FTSE 100 companies.

“The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business,” the letter reads. “While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.”

It comes after the Conservatives scrapped the election tradition of organising a letter signed by business leaders to demonstrate support.

Vince Cable, a Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems, said: “The Liberal Democrats now have support from a large number of serious figures in the business community showing that we are rapidly emerging as the party of business, big and small. Theresa May’s determination to take us out of the single market would devastate our financial sector while taking us out of the customs union would cause incalculable disruption to our manufacturing sector.”

The full text of the letter is below…

LIB DEMS AND THE SINGLE MARKET

Sir, We represent a broad range of businesses across the UK collectively employing tens of thousands of people. As business leaders and owners, we believe that leaving the single market and the customs union would be destructive to the British economy and to our businesses.

At present, we have full access to a market of 500 million customers and the best and most skilled workers across the EU. If we leave the single market, thousands of businesses would lose their competitive edge.

We cannot stand by while our country’s future is hijacked by hardcore Brexiteers who do not represent the views of the majority. Polls show two thirds of voters believe staying in the single market should be the priority, and three-quarters want EU citizens working in the UK to continue to be allowed to do so.

The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business. While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.

The simple fact is that we can’t have both a hard Brexit and a strong economy. We choose a strong economy. That’s why we will be voting for the Liberal Democrats.

David Angell, director, Peter Bennett-Jones, PBJ Management, Roger Billins, director, RB Law Limited, Lee CameronProfessor Chris Bones, chairman, Good Growth Limited, Simon Clement-DaviesGeorge CoelhoJeremy CookSimon Curtis, senior maritime lawyer, Peter Crystal, senior lawyer, Stephen DawsonAlex DaleGuy De Selliers, vice-chairman of group board, Ageas, Dinesh Dhamija, founder, Ebookers, Jay Dias, founder and managing director, Leela Capital, Andrew Dixon, managing director, ARC InterCapital, Craig FletcherJohn Forbes, partner, John Forbes Consulting LLP, Jessica Frankopan, co-founder, Curious Group of Hotels, Kevin Gibson, founder, Hanzo Archives, Stephen Goldstein, chairman, Alexander StevensPeter Guilford, co-founder and executive chairman, G+ Europe, Tony Harris, angel investor, Paul Hennemeyer, managing director, Tom Hogg, chairman, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Nicola Horlick, CEO, Denmark Square Limited, Leslie Hurst, Melissa Johnson, director, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Phillip Kerle, co-founder, Tranzacta Ltd, Adam Knight, co-founder and board director, Social & Sustainable Capital, Robert Laurence, CEO, Resolution Property, Paul LucraftTilly McAuliffe, co-founder and non-executive director, Think, Carl Michel, chairman, Firedrop.ai, Turi Munthe, partner, Jo Owen OBE, Tim Parlett, co-founder, Zopa, Mark Petterson, executive director, Warwick Energy Limited, Neil Phoenix MBE, founder, FRICS, Alex Proud, CEO, The Proud Group, Professor Nathu Puri, founder, Purico Group of Companies, Richard Reed, co-founder, Innocent, Mark SainsburyRodney Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, Clearlyso, Rahul Sharma, CEO, Careline Lifestyles, Richard Steer, chairman, Gleeds, Peter Tuvey, managing director, Fleximize, Justin Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder and head of corporate development, Seven Investment Management, Madeleine Weightman, co-founder, The Work Crowd, Ben Whately, co-founder and COO, Memrise, Joseph Zammit-Lucia, CEO, Clinical Insights

Judith Bunting discusses Brexit and local businesses with Catherine Bearder MEP

Judith Bunting, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting, welcomed Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder to Newbury on Monday (22nd May) to discuss the future of Newbury’s business sector, with particular reference to leaving the European Union.  

Judith Bunting with local businessman Richard Deal & Catherine Bearder MEP
Judith Bunting with local businessman Richard Deal & Catherine Bearder MEP

Richard Deal, who owns Deal Varney a property management company in Newbury and describes himself as politically neutral, was pleased to have the opportunity to lobby an MEP and to discuss the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitments that will affect the local economy, including the referendum on the terms of Brexit. He told Judith and Catherine:

 Our work here (at Deal Varney) is closely associated with local businesses. If they are succeeding, we will succeed”.

Explaining the Liberal Democrat demand for a second referendum, Catherine Bearder said:

“Contract negotiations often include a cooling off period. That is all the Liberal Democrats are asking for. If the deal the Conservative team negotiates with Brussels is not good enough, the British people deserve an opportunity to change direction of the UK and a vote on whether to Remain within the EU.  

Judith Bunting briefed Catherine Bearder on the local economy and the needs of the local business sector. Referring to the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day meeting at Newbury Racecourse, which she attended on Saturday, she told Catherine Bearder how last year the event drew an audience of 13,000 racegoers into the town. 

Judith Bunting at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day race meeting
Judith Bunting at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day meeting at Newbury Racecourse

Judith Bunting said:

We have a diverse economy in Newbury and West Berkshire with major employers such as the racing industry and high tech global businesses. All are dependent on a strong infrastructure whether transport or rural broadband.

“But as well as the need for public infrastructure investment, the role of entrepreneurs and small businesses in delivering a thriving economy is fundamental I believe there is a vital need for access to finance for new businesses, and those wishing to scale up.

“Creating true competition means allowing new businesses to rise and challenge established companies. There are also many well-established small businesses and traders which form the backbone of our local economy in West Berkshire. Our priority in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is to ensure that they have access to the funding they need, and in particular long-term capital.”

The Liberal Democrat manifesto for business includes plans to:

  • Expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank, enabling it to perform a more central role in the economy by tackling the shortage of equity capital for growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses.
  • Create a new ‘start up allowance’ to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business
  • Support fast growing businesses seeking to scale up, through the provision of mentoring support.
  • Review business rates to reduce burdens on small firms, and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts.
  • Reform the Regulatory Policy Committee to remove unnecessary regulation, reduce regulatory uncertainty, and support new markets and investment, particularly in low-carbon and resource-efficient innovation.

Find out more about the Lib Dem manifesto commitments here.

Judith meets local entrepreneur Ruth Headon

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen at Rio's Burger Bar

Ruth Headon is a local woman who has turned her life around. Judith went to meet her and hear her story and her plans for the future, growing a business in Newbury.

Ruth’s life spiralled out of control a few years ago, in a few short months she lost everything, her home, family, her child and friends to alcoholism and addiction. With the help of a great friend, Dave, she pulled herself through it and is now celebrating 3 years sober. 

Ruth found herself looking at a window sign in Rio’s Burger Bar asking for till staff, and she hasn’t looked back. She is now the manager there and has been there for two and a half years. 

Rio’s is now being sold and Ruth’s determined and entrepreneurial spirit has given her the motivation to want to take over Rio’s herself, and continue her efforts to support those who are going through similar experiences to her. Calling herself lucky, Ruth is now giving back to the community and is teaching others how to complete forms and how to read. With a desire to do whatever she can to help people and make a difference she has completed both Peer and Facilitating Training. 

Ruth describes the team at Rios as ‘a team of amazing people, my own little family. This is my recovery community. People come to Rio’s for food and advice’. 

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen & her team at Rio's Burgers
Judith with Ruth (far right) & her team at Rio’s Burgers

Judith said: “I support Ruth and her venture; looking to the future and not backwards – we need more of this. Ruth has overcome a great deal to get to the position she is in now and she says people should “have pride at where you are now, not shame about where you have been”.” 

Ruth is now looking to buy Rios burgers in Newbury where she has worked for 2.5 years and is currently successfully managing. Ruth has set up her own crowd funding page to support her efforts of buying Rio’s and enable her to continue her charitable support of those who are suffering. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rios-for-ruth

The Liberal Democrats have announced policies to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in their 2017 manifesto. Judith says: “Backing local businesses is very important to me as a local person, as when small businesses thrive they strengthen our economy and provide local jobs.”

Judith Bunting: Standing up for Local Business

 

The Great Liberal Democrat Brexit Debate – Rural Affairs and Racing

On Tuesday 11th April, Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats hosted a panel discussion at East Garston Village Hall to explore the effect that Brexit is likely to have on rural affairs, including the racing industry.

Thank you to everyone who came along to join us – and to our speakers for the event who are all top notch in their field.

We were delighted to be joined by entrepreneur Ivan Massow, who made national headlines last year, when he defected from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Democrats. Tim Clement Jones, a former resident of East Garston, who now speaks for the Liberal Democrats on the Digital Economy in the Lords, also joined us, to sit alongside Cotswold businesswoman, Liz Leffman, who as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the recent Witney by-election slashed the Conservative majority from 25,155 to 5,702.

The audience included locals from East Garston village and Hungerford, as well as Remain and Leave supporters from Newbury, Thatcham and Pangbourne. I enjoyed the fact that the room was not all one sided, especially when debate is informed and good natured as it was here.

As a Liberal Democrat, of course, I believe Britain would be better off staying in Europe, but the more advice and information we can give West Berkshire businesses, the better they will be able to plan for the uncertainty ahead.

Discussion covered threats to University education and research, as well as the opportunities and issues Brexit brings for farmers and the agricultural industry. Tim Clement Jones spoke on worries raised by the racing industry, which is already suffering because of the fall in sterling and faces the likely loss of European Horse Passports as well as potentially significant increases in tariffs if the UK drops out of the single market without a deal.

The next Great Liberal Democrat Brexit Debate on Brexit and the Creative Industries is at 3pm on Saturday 13th May at Johannes von Stumm’s sculpture studio at Wellhill House, South Fawley. Discussion will be led by Baroness Jane Bonham Carter.

Please join us – whichever side of the debate you sit!

“I think it is almost lemming like …”

lemming-cartoon

What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

(Thanks to Arranology for use of the cartoon, above.)

What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

  • Stay in the EU.  Brexit will destroy our business.
  • Don’t do it! Seriously I think a raft of guarantees have to be forthcoming IMMEDIATELY from the government.
  • Not leave the EU.
  • Clarity is needed on the long term support for farming and conservation in the UK. Investment in farm infrastructure is costly and needs the ability to plan for the long term. Uncertainty and the lack of planning is a real risk to our charity and to many local farm businesses.
  • Remaining in the EU, keeping single market and freedom of movement.
  • Stay in single market and allow free movement of people across Europe.
  • Stay in the EU! Full membership of Single Market and Customs Union essential if this is not possible.
  • Remain within the free market and avoid putting limits on EU workers.
  • Gov’t to stop imposing austerity measures and new initiatives that mask the impact of change – personally I think it is almost lemming like and we look set to leaping off the White Cliffs of Dover before the dangers are realised – which will be an extreme disappointment!
  • Get on and pull us out as soon as possible.
  • Leave eu as soon as possible.
  • Less project fear from remoaners.
  • Nothing, lets just look forward to a brighter and independent future trading with the world.
  • Negotiate in good faith and show goodwill.
  • Sourcing UK products. We can do little else. We are reliant on consumers having enough weekly spend to continue to purchase our products and use our services.
  • No Visas, no clamping down on immigration, a lot of people I employ and work with are from the EU and it would be difficult to replace them. People looking down on Britain for the decision and our standing in the world.
  • Beyond the effect of the falling pound.  We have products to EU trading standards – our producers will not want to get involved in UK standards as well and we have not got the resource for expensive lab testing.
  • Staying in customs union is critical to us. Also, v important to keep access to EU science & engineering funding/research programmes such as Horizon 2020.
  • Change as little as possible from status quo – stability is key. EU Workers a key source of Workers, there is already a shortage of labour with the right skills from this country and even the EU.
  • Tax reduction.
  • Not go ahead with it! Brexit is a business nightmare and to push ahead when only a quarter of the population choose it, (and a mainly elderly quarter at that, whose working lives are over) is utter folly. Not quite sure where they think their pensions are going to be coming from, or how we will fund the NHS to keep looking after them when the get ill and face end of life. Business is this country’s lifeblood and Brexit threatens to chop it off at the roots.
  • Stay in the single market.

“It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.”

im-so-angry-i-made-a-sign-_-fuck-brexit-roskilde-festiva-_-flickrIf the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

If the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

  • It would significantly handicap our ability to deliver services and products to Europe. Considering Europe is where the majority of our business takes place, it is highly likely that we will leave the U.K.
  • It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.
  • Risk of high value, time-sensitive goods being held up in customs, especially as much of our supply chain is non-EU. Late delivery to our key customer would result in contract termination, so we will have to assume customs delays & build early, increasing our inventory costs.
  • Higher prices.

  • Cost of raw materials would rise hence cost of product would rise.
  • Problems with customs delaying shipment. Tariffs also a concern. Medical devices regulated by the Medical Devices Directive from EU, with MHRA responsible for policing in the U.K. What happens after Brexit to these regulations?
  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.
  • Small businesses will have less money to spend. Large companies will remove their HQs from London. Our clients will not be interested in marketing to the British, they will look elsewhere.
  • Without EU membership our business is decimated

  • Very little.

  • Very little as we can operate under WTO rules.

  • Anticipate an increase in paperwork, more difficult shipping of products, and possible travel problems for visiting customers.

  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.

  • Deferred and lack of business confidence will effect commercial property market businesses relocating to Europe will suppress demand.

Local traders say Brexit is bad for business – Survey Results

Version 2

  • “After the referendum result we spent six months absorbing cost increases.
    Since January we have had no choice but to pass these increases on to our customers”.
    Jon Gage, Rivar Sand and Gravel (see photo above).

Two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in West Berks Business Brexit Survey survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market.

The consultation was part of a national exercise for small businesses. Newbury and West Berks Liberal Democrats wanted to make sure that the views of our local traders and employers were properly represented in the national results. The consultation ran online from 19th October to 14th December 2016.

  • “If tariffs are introduced for British businesses trading with the EU,
    the effect on my business will be catastrophic!”

The news is that two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in the survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market. Many report that their costs have gone up already and that they have no choice to but to pass these onto their customers through increased prices.

  • EU funding supports nearly 45% of the post 16 funding.
    There is
    nothing in the plans to show how this loss will be addressed.”  

The Liberal Democrats continue to believe that Britain is better off in Europe, but our immediate priority is to make sure small local businesses do not pay the price of a rushed withdrawal.

The results of the survey are being used to draw up a list of negotiating requirements, which the Liberal Democrats will call on the Government to achieve.

More comments from the survey responses will follow
in separate posts, published in the next few days.

RESULTS

Q: Do you expect Brexit to have a positive or negative impact on your business?

q1-numbers

q1-graph
66% of people who responded expect Brexit to have negative impact on their business

Q: Do you export to the EU?

q3-numbers

q3-graph
27.08% say they export to the EU

Q: Do you import products or materials from the EU?

q4-numbers

q4-graph
47.92% import products or materials from the EU

Q: Do you have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries?

q5-numbers

q5-graph
81.25% of respondents have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries

More comments from the survey responses will follow
in separate posts, published in the next few days.

Lib Dems will cut youth unemployment

judith bunting  thatcham 099

Above: With Courtney from Thatcham, an apprentice at the Thatcham Automotive Academy, which trains youngsters from across the UK for the motor repair and insurance industries.

The Liberal Democrats aim to see an extra 100,000 young adults into work through on the job training such as an apprenticeship or full-time education. This week, Nick Clegg outlined a plan which focuses on cutting youth unemployment cut to its lowest levels since records began.

This announcement is critical for Newbury and West Berkshire. Our high achievers here do well, and we are rightly proud of what they achieve. The increasing number of NEETS in our area is worrying, however (Youngsters Not in Education, Employment or Training).

If I am elected to Westminster, I am determined to see the number of unemployed youngsters in our area drop.

Liberal Democrats believe in spreading opportunity to everyone, no matter what your background. The opportunity to work and have a fulfilling and rewarding career is crucial to this.

In a future government, Nick will launch a Youth Unemployment Action Plan. He will also set up a new Youth Unemployment Task-force within the first 100 days of government to fast-track getting young adults back into work.

In Government we created two million new jobs and two million more apprenticeships. We have reduced youth unemployment, but it’s still too high and there is much more to do.

I remember hearing Vince Cable talking about the importance of apprenticeships long before we were in government. Now we want to double the number of businesses taking on apprentices, open up work experience opportunities, transform careers advice and, across the UK, invest millions into mental health services.

Youth unemployment was rising long before the financial crash. It increased by a third under Labour. The Conservatives risk making things much harder for young people by stripping them of jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit. 

Only the Liberal Democrats have a comprehensive plan to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.