Dear Members & Friends,
Things are changing by the hour as I write this (midday Friday) and we need quite a few more days to pass before we can reflect on the political environment we will all be dealing with and its likely consequences for business and the economy. Whilst last night brings uncertainty, which is never good for business, the wheels of commerce can and will keep turning despite the white heat coming out of the Westminster village, and it’s important we continue to serve the membership’s need to find and win business whilst keeping a close eye on the political picture.
One brief comment? For much of the membership the ‘hard Brexit’ option, notably issues around leaving the customs union, loss of open access to EU skills and a perceived nightmare of major interruptions to the smooth operation of supply chains, raised real concerns. If the Conservative party remains in power the far less Brexit-supportive views of two parts of the Union, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will come strongly into play. Whilst the two major parties unequivocally accept the referendum ‘leave’ decision, it’s quite likely that this regional input plus the combination of the official Labour negotiating position and the fact that a majority of Conservative MPs did not want Brexit will move the needle more towards compromise with Brussels (assuming Brussels is in the mood!). It will be interesting to hear Lord Hill’s reflection when he briefs 23 Grafton St next Wednesday (and Tim Farron the following week).
Andrew Hilton has also agreed to put in an additional shift to give us post-election economic reflections. We will aim to post that early next week.
Finally, amidst all this political hurly-burly let’s not forget what happened on our doorstep last Saturday. It would be remiss of us to not share our collective condolences with those killed, injured and affected by the terrorist attack around London Bridge. I think ‘enough is enough’ is a sentiment we can all agree with, whichever box we ticked on the ballot paper yesterday. Just as, I hope, we can err firmly on the side of praising the job the security forces do for us and regret the blame-game that had begun to gain momentum before the election.
With best regards,
Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International