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Dear Members and friends,

As I write, those in this group who have not resigned are mulling over a five hundred page document which, according to your point of view, either, at last, breaks the endless circle of hell we’ve been living in with a workable compromise that pragmatically faces up to realities, delivering on most of the ‘leave’ requirements, or is an unacceptable fudge which places a fig leaf over vassalage to the EU and a failure to honour the biggest democratic vote in the UK’s history. We now move into three weeks of parliamentary manoeuvring. And, in any case, this is just a blueprint for the future UK/EU relationship. The trade deal has to be negotiated before any claims of ‘frictionless trade’ can be made.

We will schedule a meaty early January event on what no-deal or any deal that gets through Parliament means, in detail, for members’ concerns around supply chains, immigration, tax and contracts.

It was not a huge surprise that (the now former) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey cancelled her Thursday session with us.

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The redoubtable and hugely informed BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, visited Grafton St on Tuesday to speak to British Expertise International’s Middle East group. Frank was paralysed after being repeatedly shot in 2004 by a terrorist in Saudi Arabia and his resolution to not just continue his journalistic career but to take it to considerable heights is an achievement he wears very modestly. Frank shared his thoughts and in-depth knowledge of many of the geopolitical issues that facing the Middle East, including how damaging the Jamal Khashoggi affair may have been to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and MBS himself, the conflicts in Yemen and Syria – resolution and prospects for peace, Qatar’s position in the GCC, the US – Iran future relationship and much more. We very rarely hear such clear and candid analysis.

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This week our first Future Group Cohort in its current format completed its final module at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The main exercise saw the cohort, acting as a Board, being put through its paces in a business setting. They had to consider the impact of their decisions on Company Reputation, Share Value, Winning New Business, Morale, Retention of staff… the list goes on. There were some very broad discussions, and the cohort of 2018 really bonded and were an excellent team. We wish them all the best and success in their future careers.

No sooner had this Course finished, we found ourselves welcoming the next Course that started yesterday! This unique, cross-sector programme for those designated by their CEOs as future potential top leaders now moves from its pilot stage to its first two cohorts of ten participants. Alongside a challenging ten-month programme which deepens key skills and forges lifelong bonds, it is good to see Civil Service fast-trackers participating.

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Melanie Robinson, UK Executive Director to the World Bank was guest of honour at a BEI lunch this week. Melanie spoke frankly to members and guests about the focus, investment in human capital, and building resilience in some of the poorest nations of the world, via the largest IFI in the world. With a budget of $75BN this year, heading to $100BN in the near future the World Bank is a key provider of finance for meeting the SDGs adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.

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Next week we have excellent events on the Internet of Things and on HMG explaining its cross- government approach to the deployment of the Prosperity fund.

Have a good weekend.

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 21st November – D Group Lunch
Putting the I into IOT, opportunities for industry through early adoption
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, The Digital Catapult

Thursday 22nd November –BEI Meeting
ICAI – Achieving value for money through procurement Part 2
Tina Fahm, ICAI Commissioner

Wednesday 28th November – D Group Dinner
How Britain’s Ports can thrive in the future
Tim Morris, Chief Executive Officer, UK Major Ports Group