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

 

Local traders say leaving Single Market would be bad for business – Survey Results 2017

Version 2

This report was first posted on 20th February 2017.

“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.

Verbatim comments from local traders can be read in these separate posts, below:

SURVEY 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

Message to voters in Newbury and West Berkshire

#YourVoiceMatters

This General Election is the Best Thing for Britain.
It Gives us a Chance for Change.

The Conservatives are hell bent on a ‘hard Brexit’. We now understand the future of our country is at stake. The national press suggests that the number of Leave voters who still want to exit from Europe is shrinking:

  • ‘Leave’ voters who did not realise Brexit could lead to the break up of the UK.
  • People who chose not to vote who now regret that decision.
  • ‘Leave’ voters who feel they were lied to during the Referendum Campaign.
  • 17 year olds who have had a birthday since last June and now want a say in their own future.

Add these to the 48% who feel the narrow margin of victory last June is being casually disregarded. Yes, this general election is the best thing that could happen to the UK right now.

If you want to stop a hard Brexit, you need an MP who will fight for you.

  • If you are a Remain Tory voter, please lend me your vote for this election.
  • If you are a Labour voter who does not want to leave the single market, please support us.
  • If you are angry at the potential break up of the UK, vote for us.
  • If you want to live in a country which is open, tolerant and united, vote with us.

#YourVoiceMatters

If you would like to join our local campaign team to work to stop this hard #Brexit in its tracks, please write to us at westberkslibdems@yahoo.com.

If you would like to join the Liberal Democrats – it only takes two minutes: http://www.libdems.org.uk/fightback 

 

Local Business – Brexit Consultation at Shaw House with Lord Newby

 

On Thursday 17th November, Lord Newby, former spokesman for Her Majesty’s Treasury in the Lords, will be in Newbury to find out how our local businessmen and women think Brexit is going to affect their trade. He will also give us an update re what’s going on behind the scenes in parliament.

This visit is part of the National Brexit Consultation being run by Liberal Democrats across Britain. I want to be sure the concerns of businesses in Newbury and West Berkshire are included in this mix.

Of course, Liberal Democrats continue to believe that Britain is better off in Europe, but our immediate priority is to make sure British business does not pay the price of a rushed withdrawal. Whichever you voted in the Referendum, you will be welcome. I am keen to make sure all views in our area are represented.

The results of the National Consultation will be drawn to the attention of Theresa May and her colleagues as part of our challenge to government, as they negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Whether you run a care home, a pub or a café, whether you are a baker, a racehorse trainer, a tech expert or a publisherI want to know what worries you about Brexit, or what pleases you. Or perhaps you are torn, with business results working against your principals – and I have met one or two people like that, where they sell goods abroad and are doing quite well out of the falling pound, even though they, personally, fervently wish the UK could stay in the EU.

Responses to the online surveys are flooding in. The balance of opinion shifts every day, but so far 65% of people who have responded say they expect Brexit to have a negative effect on their business. 35% of businesses report that the falling value of sterling will have a positive effect on their trade.

The Event takes place on Thursday 17th November, 18:30 at Shaw House, Newbury, RG14 2DR, RSVP.

Anyone wishing to reserve a seat should write to Judith Bunting at judith.bunting@wbld.org.uk or by post at NWB Liberal Democrats, Commercial House, 53B Kingsbridge Road, Newbury, RG14 6DY.

Or just turn up on the night – we are not gong to turn you away.

Equality Matters

A number of people have been asking about my views on inequality, so I thought I would share this post again, written after I took part in a debate at Fitzwilliam College about the extreme levels of inequality we’re seeing in the UK. It was partly my frustration with rising inequality after the financial crash of 2008 that drove me into politics:

BUSINESS Backs Lib Dems …

cropped-dsc20151.jpg

Today the Financial Times published a letter from UK business leaders with an uncompromising heading:

To have the Lib Dems back in government is in the whole country’s interests

I have extracted a few excerpts from the letter, below. If you would like to read it in full, please go to: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/03f1cdd8-e485-11e4-a4de-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3XYx9yf00

You will have to register to read FT content, but access is free to all comers (for a while).

>>>>>>>

Sir,

As we approach the general election with the UK’s economy growing stronger, a record number of jobs and with living standards rising, it is easy to forget how far the country has come in the past five years.

In 2010, the UK and Greece had similar deficit levels; we were teetering on the brink of a complete economic disaster. It was widely asserted that the coalition would soon collapse and be the cause of uncertainty. But the opposite has been the case. We have had five years of stable government which has been good for business and has seen a steady improvement in the country’s fortunes. The coalition has achieved a tremendous amount in addition to economic recovery, notably in the areas of education, apprenticeships and pension reform.
In view of their track record in sustaining the present government and their positive role in it, we believe it is essential to have enough Liberal Democrat MPs in the new parliament to provide a clear and sensible voice for the centre ground.

If there is to be a new coalition government or other multi-party arrangement, we hope it will include the Liberal Democrats. We believe such an outcome is in the interests of the whole country.

Peter Bennett-Jones
Founder, Tiger Aspect

Andrew Dixon
CEO, ARC InterCapital

Helen Pitcher
Chair, Advanced Board Excellence

Richard Reed
Co-Founder, Innocent Drinks

Richard Steer
Chairman, Gleeds

Alice Weightman
Founder and CEO, The Work Crowd and Hanson Search

David Alliance
Co-founder, Coats plc

Alistair Arkley
Chairman, New Century Enterprises

Ray Auvray
Chairman, Prospects Group

Dennis Bacon
Chair, Norfolk Independent Care

Professor Chris Bones
Joint Managing Director, Good Growth Ltd

Anthony Bunker
Consultant, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP

Jules Coleman
Co-founder, hassle.com

Peter Crystal
Founder, Memery Crystal LLP

Stephen Dawson
Co-founder, Impetus Private Equity Fund

Alex Depledge
Co-founder, hassle.com

Alain Desmier
Founder, e-finity Leads

Dinesh Dhamija
Founder, Ebookers

Don Evans
Joint Managing Director, Springdew

Gi Fernando
Technology entrepreneur and investor

Craig Fletcher
Founder, Multiplay

John Forbes
Founder, John Forbes Consulting LLP

Ben Gateley
Co-founder, Eleven Enterprises

James Goddard-Watts
Owner, Group Silverline

Stephen Goldstein
Chairman, Alexander Stevens

James Hammersley
Joint Managing Director, Good Growth

Tony Harris
Entrepreneur

Ian Hudson
Deputy CEO, Penguin Random House

Sven Hughes
Founder, Verbalisation

Heather Jackson
Founder, An Inspirational Journey and The Balanced Business Forum

Sue Lawton
Global expert on women and enterprise

Paul Lucraft
Business advisor and entrepreneur

Tilly McAuliffe
Owner, Think Publishing

Surinder (Max) Mongia
Chairman, Strongfield Technologies

Turi Munthe
Founder, Demotix

Gary Noon
CEO, Clinical Insights

B J Ord
Chairman, John Livingston & Sons

Jo Owen
Social entrepreneur

James Palumbo
Chairman, Ministry of Sound

Robert Perlman
Chairman, CRU Group

Neil Phoenix
Founder, Conrad Phoenix Properties

Alex Proud
Founder, Proud Group

Richard Pym
Chairman, Allied Irish Bank

Raj Ramanandi
Founder, #1seed

Rodney Schwartz
CEO, Clearly So

Colin Sharman
Former chairman, Aviva Group and KPMG

Nick Silver
Director, Callund Consulting

Timothy Smit
Founder, Eden Project

Daniel Steel
Founder, Esdevium Games

Susan Tobbell
Director, MRH (GB)

Anthony Ullmann
Founder, Autofill Worldwide

Rumi Verjee
Founder, Domino’s Pizza

Jonathan Webbe
Director of International Trade and Development, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Mark Wilson
Managing Director, Taylor Rafferty

Andy Wood
CEO, Adnams

Tory attitude to housing is a scandal.

Taceham House in Thatcham, empty for ~6 years. With Owen Jeffery, Dep Leader, Thatcham Town Council, and David Rendel, Cllr for Thatcham Central.
Taceham House in Thatcham, empty for ~6 years.

Today the Conservative party announced plans to extend the right to buy to Housing Association properties. This proposal will lead to longer waiting lists for homes and fewer social houses.

In February 2015, 1,092 qualifying households were on the Common Housing Register for West Berkshire. 1,569 non-qualifying households were also on the list. I know, I checked with WBC.

That’s 2661 people/families waiting for suitable accommodation in West Berkshire, while the infamous 37 affordable flats in Parkway and social housing sites such as Taceham House, lie closed and unused. Taceham House has stood empty for 6 years.

According to Government figures, only 220 affordable homes were built in the  West Berks district between 2010 and 2012. That puts the council 48th out of 55 unitary councils in England. The lack of care shown by this administration in West Berkshire is a scandal.

Now the Tory administration supported by our own MP is proposing to extend the right to buy to Housing Association properties. This proposal will lead to longer waiting lists for homes and fewer social houses. It should not be allowed.

Local housing is controlled by the Council, but I believe the MP has an important role in standing up for residents’ needs. If I’m elected to Westminster I will not turn my back on local matters. I want to make sure young people in our area all get the best start in life. Over the past five years, our MP has been sleeping on the job.
..
On 7 May we decide who should take care of West Berkshire in parliament and on our local Council.
 

Should we elect a Liberal Democrat MP who will fight for fairness or send a Conservative MP back to Westminster for more of the same?

 

DECENT HOMES FOR ALL: For more information about Lib Dem Housing Policies, please see the full report, below, Decent Homes for All:

http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/2012/attachments/original/1390841965/104_-_Decent_Homes_for_All.pdf?1390841965

Hustings update

20150326_192739

LOCAL NEWS:

Last week saw parliamentary candidates in our constituency taking part in the Hungerford Question Time, always an important staging post in election campaigning.

The usual suspects were on the panel, with Paul from the Green Party replacing UKIP Katherine who was indisposed. Proceedings were well chaired by Greg Furr.

Questions ranged from rail electrification (supported by all parties) , to business rates (Lib Dems launched wide ranging review last week), to plans for the NHS (lots of vague promises, Lib Dems only party with a costed plan to provide £8bn a year extra funding for NHS by 2020).

There will be further opportunities to quiz your representatives on:

  • Sun 19th April – 19:00             Streatley Hustings
    The Morrell Room, Church Lane, RG8 9HT
  • Weds 22nd April – 17:45         Newbury Political Debate, hosted by Buzz Magazine
    St Bart’s School, Andover Rd, RG14 6JP
  • Thurs 23rd April – 07:45         Economy, Taxation & Business hosted by Grant Thornton
    I will be debating with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, at a Thames Valley hustings  in Reading
    Madejski Stadium, Junction 11, M4, Reading RG2 0FL

If you are able to come along to any of these debates, I look forward to meeting you. Do come and say hello at the end of the event.