Manufacturers’ Brexit manifesto

Terry Scuoler comments on the result of the EU referendum.

Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF.

Britain has voted to leave the EU. It is not the decision that many businesses wanted and the immediate political and economic fallout has been immense.

But if the economy is to get back on an even keel and calm is to be restored, then it is clear that we have to set aside our disappointment and start to pull together.

The Government must work hard to shore up confidence, reassure the markets and avoid economic limbo. Securing our industrial future is key, and manufacturers will want early assurances that the Government is committed to securing access to the single market and protecting the UK’s trading relationships.

Regardless of the political soap operas currently being played out, the Government must send a clear ‘business as usual’ message to Europe and the rest of the world.

It is vital that we do not scare away important investment and jobs, and that we are seen to be behaving with dignity, cordiality and respect for our neighbouring states and long-standing partners.

Blue Cartography Of European Union with Business Silhouettes
EEF urges the Government to hold its nerve and resist triggering Article 50 until it has a clear and defined negotiating position.

Above all, we are urging the Government to hold its nerve and resist triggering Article 50 until it has a clear and defined negotiating position.

As those of us in business know, entering any negotiation in haste without doing your strategic homework first will only ever end badly.

The Government has a major task ahead in supporting growth in the economy and managing the process of securing a new relationship with the EU.

As part of this, it is vital that we keep manufacturing growth on track. Key to this will be ensuring that the migration of workers into the UK is not impaired now or in any future negotiations.

Now, more than ever, Britain needs an industrial strategy to anchor large, mobile investors and to support investment and growth in domestic supply chains.

Increasing investment, innovation and productivity across the UK industrial sector must now take precedence over deficit reduction.

Government and business must get on with the job of determining what is in the best interests of the UK in forging a new relationship with the EU.

We should not simply take an existing off-the-peg model, but create a model that serves the unique interests of the UK.

There are three headline priorities for manufacturers that we will be urging the Government to address: maintain tariff free access to the EU market for goods and services; ensure regulatory stability; and continue to address the UK skills gap.

By moving forward together on these, while negotiating the right relationship for the UK with the EU, the Government will help to set this crisis behind us.

And, whether or not manufacturers agree that it was the right decision, at least businesses will again feel confident that the UK supports their ability to invest and grow.