Andrew Baxter, managing director at Europa Worldwide Group, comments on the election result:
" I am delighted with the result – with Boris Johnson now having the clear majority to follow through and deliver Brexit, we believe it gives a much clearer direction.
" The result has created a certainty for customers in the sense we know Britain is going to leave the EU, although the exact timing is currently unclear, but most importantly it removes the uncertainty of a second referendum.
" Going forward, we’re optimistic that the Government will be able to negotiate a clear trade agreement with the EU and give sensible notice to operators in relation to both the customs arrangements that will be in place and the level of tariffs that will apply.
" The question we’re facing now is timing – when will the UK actually leave the customs union and how can we ensure we are 100 per cent prepared for it? As far as we are concerned, providing we have reasonable notice of the processes and tariffs and the implementation date then we are very confident that we can deliver a smooth transition for our customers."
Brexit: Failing to plan is planning to fail, says FTA:
FTA, the business organisation which speaks for the logistics industry, welcomes the new clarity and direction that the General Election result provides to business in terms of Brexit planning. However, FTA is warning that, without the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, there is still the risk of a No Deal departure from the EU on 31 January 2020 – which could bring chaos to the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain, and the industry which relies upon it.
Assuming Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows through on his commitment that he will “get Brexit done” and achieves ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by Parliament, Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s Head of Global and European Policy, is keen that the focus for government should then shift to details of the future trading arrangements between the UK and EU:
“What logistics and supply chain managers need above all is clarity over the Brexit’s end game. While the short-term priority is to ensure that the UK leaves with a ratified withdrawal agreement, we need answers to the big questions about our future trading arrangements with Europe. Most of the crucial topics related to trade and transport have yet to be negotiated with the EU, in what will be a very short amount of time. Entering these negotiations with a clear picture of what logistics needs will be critical to its success. Minimising frictions, red tape and costs should be at the heart of the negotiations if UK PLC is to continue trading effectively,” she says.
According to FTA, the three priorities still concerning businesses across the sector which is responsible for keeping Britain’s industry and consumers stocked with the products they need are:
Final confirmation of the arrangements for imports and exports between the UK and Europe need to be agreed – business needs to know what the processes required will be and have time to learn and implement them. Agreement on the situation on the Northern Ireland border, including the potential for checks and where and how these are to be made
The ongoing situation regarding the employment of EU nationals within a sector that relies on them for vital labour – with more than 53,000 lorry driver vacancies already in the UK, and more in warehousing, van driving and other key roles across the sector, the loss of the 343,000 EU nationals working in British logistics firms could see vehicle movements and the supply chain as a whole come to a standstill.
“Our members are agile and know how to adapt to changing circumstances and new risks and opportunities, but to do so, they will need sufficient advanced notice of the changes that are to come. Ensuring they are involved every step of the way, from the definition of the negotiating mandate to implementation of new rules is the best way of ensuring that the new trade and transport arrangements will work in practice and allow logistics to Keep Britain Trading. As the voice of logistics, we stand ready to do just this”.
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.
In reaction to the result of the general election, Melanie Leech CBE, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, said:
“We look forward to building a meaningful partnership with the new Conservative Government to help the property industry to maintain and increase the positive economic and social impact it makes across the UK.
“Our country faces huge challenges that the property industry is uniquely placed to help tackle, be it delivering more homes and better places, supporting our town centres, spreading prosperity through our regions or creating a clear roadmap to creating a net-zero built environment.
“We hope the Prime Minister will listen and grasp the opportunity with both hands.”
CBI responds to General Election 2019 result. Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:
“Congratulations to Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. After three years of gridlock, the Prime Minister has a clear mandate to govern. Businesses across the UK urge him to use it to rebuild confidence in our economy and break the cycle of uncertainty.
“Employers share the Prime Minister’s optimism for the UK and are ready to play a leading role. They can bring the innovation, investment and jobs for a new era of inclusive growth. The biggest issues of our times – from tackling climate change to reskilling the workforce for new technologies – can only be delivered through real partnership between government and business.
“The starting point must be rebuilding business confidence, and early reassurance on Brexit will be vital. Firms will continue to do all they can to prepare for Brexit, but will want to know they won’t face another no deal cliff-edge next year. Pro-enterprise policies on immigration, infrastructure, innovation and skills, will help relaunch the UK on the world stage.
“Despite recent challenges, the UK remains a great place to start and build a business. A new contract between enterprise and government can make the UK a global magnet for investment, powering higher productivity and living standards across the UK.”
2019 General Election result statement by Peter Ward, CEO of the UK Warehousing Association
The Conservative Party’s overwhelming victory in last week’s General Election will finally break the Parliamentary gridlock that has frustrated the business community for over three years and the return of a high degree of political certainty is bound to be good for investment.
Indeed, there are already clear signs that the economic climate has been boosted by the result, and we expect a greater degree of confidence within our membership to emerge in the new year as the uncertainty about the UK’s withdrawal from Europe falls away.
Within a few days we are likely to see the timetable for the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement, and our exit from the EU will be confirmed by the end of January.
However, as UKWA has said consistently, while securing a Withdrawal Agreement that is acceptable both to the EU and the UK Parliament is an important milestone in the Brexit process, there is plenty of hard work still to be done before we ‘get Brexit done’.
The nature of Britain’s future relationship with the EU has yet to be defined and the Prime Minister’s pre-election pledge that the Brexit Transition Period will not be extended beyond December 2020 means that the risk of leaving the EU on WTO terms – with the interruptions to supply chains that such a scenario will bring - is still with us.
UKWA remains committed to supporting the Government in shaping practical solutions to the issues that lie ahead, but no one should underestimate the scale of the task that remains before us.
Image credit: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-in-downing-street-13-december-2019