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We need a New Year's resolution for Brexit clarity

22 Dec 2019

So this is Christmas and what have you done.

Another year over, a new one just begun….

As we come to the end of the year, and indeed, the decade, it is time to reflect on all that has happened, and to look into the crystal ball, to see what the future will bring.

IoD Wales friends, colleagues, partners and supporters recently attended our two Christmas lunches in North and South Wales respectively – a time of celebration and reflection.

The latter was held just hours after the monumental result of the General Election, which should bring the Brexit impasse to an end. I am sure that there will be road bumps in the journey ahead, but ‘Getting Brexit Done’ has been exactly what Welsh businesses have been calling for for some time.

That doesn’t mean that all of Welsh business supports the 2016 referendum result – but time and time again, business people have been telling me they just want clarity about the environment they are working in – for better or worse.

After years of parliamentary chaos, directors want to see a Government that is clear-sighted about the challenges facing businesses, and for it to be ambitious, but realistic, in its response.

Welsh companies have been resilient amid the confusion, but they are eager for some clarity now.

For directors, ‘Get Brexit Done’ will only have meaning once the details of our long-term future relationship with the EU are clear.

They need a framework to plan for the future from. The Prime Minister must resist the urge for arbitrary negotiating deadlines, and should commit to a proper adjustment period that starts when businesses know the full detail of what changes they may be facing.

Our members have made clear that the content and shape of any new deal are much more important than simply the speed in getting there.

2019 will be remembered for the Brexit impasse at Westminster, but business is resilient, and to coin a phrase from the Prime Minister, we have been ‘getting business done’.

Now is the time to supercharge that work, and ensure business gets the support and infrastructure to enable that.

With this comes economic growth, improved prosperity for all, and improved social inclusion – I don’t think anyone would disagree with that Christmas wish list.

Last week we saw the appointment of a new Secretary of State for Wales in Simon Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. I congratulate him on his appointment and the IoD in Wales looks forward to working with him and his team.

“We will be engaging with the Secretary State for Wales’ offices so that our members’ opinions will be heard in regards to the priorities of the new government in relation to the Welsh economy and this will start immediately.”

The IoD in Wales has an excellent relationship with both the Secretary of State’s offices and those of the Wales First Minister and his Cabinet.

Getting business done requires partnership and collaboration. But we consider ourselves a critical friend of both the UK and Welsh Governments.

Like many, we remain hugely disappointed by the First Minister’s decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road around Newport.

This continues to be a major concern for our members, and we hope and expect to see improvements through the recently announced recommendations made by the Commission set up to look at alternative solutions to the relief road. Let’s get it done!

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you all.

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