Business Secretary Sajid Javid’s speech to UK business leaders at an emergency Brexit summit has focused on reassurance and his determination to retain as much access to the European single market as possible in any deal. He told assembled guests that ‘This government is still 100% committed to making the UK the best place in Europe to start and grow a business,” but warned that the current climate was “Not the time for hasty decisions that will be regretted later.”
Javid was at pains to reassure those present that single market access was the critical priority for BIS, and that his department would be tireless in securing that as part of the Brexit deal: “While I’m not in a position to make promises, I assured everyone that my number one priority will be just that in the negotiations to come,” he said.
“I also set out the wide-ranging, globe-spanning process of engagement that has been underway at my department since the result became known. I’ve personally been in regular contact with many CEOs and business leaders, a process that will continue in the days and weeks that lie ahead.
Global trade missions
The meeting also heard that the next few months would see Trade Minister Lord Price visiting key overseas markets including China, Hong Kong and Brazil, ‘And reminding firms there that the UK is still very much open for business, just as before.’
In addition, Javid said he had instructed all the heads of UKTI to engage with the key investors locally to reassure them that the UK remains open for business and an attractive inward investment destination.
Amid the gloom surrounding Brexit, Javid reassured business that the UK’s global trading position remained strong. “In the past 48 hours we’ve heard senior politicians in Australia and South Korea calling for immediate talks on trade deals with the UK. Of course, the impact of last week’s vote will not just be felt among exporters and foreign investors. Across the country there are millions of businesses, large and small, that are not directly trading into EU, but who also have questions. In the weeks to come my ministerial team and I will be visiting businesses right across the country.”
‘Determined to make this work’
He signed off with a positive message: “Again and again we have heard business leaders mirroring the government’s position – that they are determined to make this work. Although many were shocked by the result, they are all doing what British businesses have always done. They are adapting, they are innovating, they are rising to the challenge.
“Finally, let me remind all of Britain’s businesses that, even in the face of market volatility, our economy remains fundamentally strong. The deficit is down, employment is up, Britain is home to more private businesses than at any point in its history.”