What does business want from Boris Johnson?

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What does business want from Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson promised his government would “unleash” the potential of British business, once he has fulfilled his core campaign promise to “get Brexit done”

Brexit:

With an 80-seat majority, there is little doubt that Mr. Johnson will be able to get his Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, paving the way for the UK to leave the European Union.

The prospect of an end to three years of to and fro over the issue is welcomed by the deputy director-general of the CBI, Josh Hardie.

“Just the fact that we have a government with a strong majority and a mandate actually provides the opportunity to bring a bit more certainty,” he said.

But as the prime minister’s opponents were at pains to point out during the election campaign, the UK could still leave the EU without a trade deal at the end of next year unless a trade deal with the EU can be struck in record time.

Mr. Hardie said British businesses would like to see maximum alignment with the bloc, describing a relationship of frictionless trade very similar to EU membership, but the new government has promised an arms-length arrangement, with the UK outside both the EU single market and the customs union.

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Brexit could provide an opportunity for British firms to expand into other overseas markets such as the US, Canada, and Australia. But the UK’s relationship with the EU remains the first item on the agenda.

Infrastructure and investment:

Mr. Johnson welcomed the election result with a promise to “repay the trust” of voters in the north of England who swung behind the Conservatives, many for the first time in their lives.

There is an expectation that the previous Conservative government’s Northern Powerhouse plans will get further backing. The Times has suggested the prime minister could be planning to pump as much as £80bn into projects in key northern seats in a bid to cement his new voters’ support.

But Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of the lobby group London First, also put in a bid for more schemes in the south of England – if the prime minister has his wallet out anyway.

“The Conservative manifesto recognised the role for vital infrastructure in supporting the economy, from Northern Powerhouse Rail to gigabit broadband.

“The Government now should go further and give clear backing to HS2 and Crossrail 2, as well as reaffirming support for airport expansion at London’s airports, putting in place the key building blocks needed to enable our regions to grow together.”

That kind of spending may help boost the UK’s flagging growth rates, says Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountancy firm KPMG.

She says “public spending will need to do the heavy lifting” when it comes to dispelling the cloud of uncertainty around an EU deal but it will take more than that.

“The new government must also turn its attention to some of the longer-standing challenges facing the UK, such as poor productivity and declining regional opportunities, to help secure a better long term future, while addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology and climate change.

Source: BBC News