A year ago, I was writing about the fall-out of the UK-EU Referendum and how we felt the business community and wider economy may fare. As it was, the whole country was fatigued by the never ending political shenanigans. Accordingly, once again, business folks went away in the summer shattered from the carnage of the political car crash that the May-Corbyn combine delivered. .
“I can’t stand this, there is just too much politics going on”
This year the viral reaction of “Brenda from Bristol”, bless her, perfectly characterised the national mood when Theresa May called the June General Election.
What an unmitigated disaster that was, little short of a national embarrassment.
Whereas we felt that the UK business folks would dust themselves down and ‘get on with things’ in late summer 2016, we feel a little less sanguine about matters a year later.
Firstly, there is undoubtedly fatigue and frustration with the political elite and the way that it is holding back rather than enabling business.
Secondly, brinkmanship of the EU and UK around Brexit is waring; these bureaucrats do not run businesses and seem not to give a flying fig about the reality that uncertainty creates.
Thirdly, the UK economy is decelerating a little albeit those doom-mongering economists continue to be proved more wrong than right.
The UK economy is interesting;
• We have very low unemployment, lots of vacancies and a skills shortage.
• Whilst inflation is back in the system, it is not as high as the Remoaners would like and so living standards are stable rather than imploding. Albeit for low income households’ inflation is regressive I should add.
• More to the point the UK has annualised against the devaluation of sterling and the inflationary pressures upon business look like easing.
• Interest rates also remain unhealthily low, they should be slowly and steadily increased as the degree of stimulation now does not seem healthy, but low rates makes money relatively affordable.
Such a deck of economic cards is not the worst that we have seen over the last twenty or thirty years for sure. That said, the political circus and Brexit uncertainty are making it that little bit more challenging for businesses to invest. And that investment is vital to the long-term prospects for the UK. Hence, whilst we expect most British entrepreneurs to remain stoical and so continue to ‘get on with things’, we could understand if they held back a little.
In this respect, having removed the two idiots that were her political advisors, it is welcome that Theresa May is now being forced to talk to business. However, that is a long way from being a proficient and effective Prime Minister for the UK. Accordingly, I believe it is time for business to be in the face of their local MPs and the government. More than this though I look to government to be more visionary and more committed about our supply-side needs. Whilst Jeremy Corbyn gives me as much confidence in terms of economic competence as do Coventry City’s defence at keeping clean sheets, he is right to goad government of the need for material infrastructure investment. To me this is the time to do something real and brave for the UK embracing our skills shortages, digital communication, green energy, advanced engineering, life sciences, creative industries and transport to just mention a few.
There is a need for material structural supply side investment to make Britain a place international capital wishes to commit too. There is a need for a vision to broaden our economic base to make it less dependent upon the City of London and stronger across our regions. We need to set out, and get on with long-term plans to improve air and rail communications forthwith. East-to-West rail links in the UK are archaic; It is insulting to the businesses of the north of England, for example, that the government can offer support for Crossrail 2 and cancel the electrification of the Liverpool to Newcastle-upon-Tyne rail line.
Outside the UK we also need a structural upgrade in our commercial capabilities around embassies and consulates. The UK is going to have to trade better in future decades and government needs to offer serious supply-side support, as we see the Dutch, Germans and Irish do for years. A somewhat seemingly permanently intoxicated ex-GP trade minister is a laughing stock and he revealed his true colours on business when he characterised our businesses people as more interested in golf than trade.
So, I do hope that you all come back once again refreshed. I also hope that bright eyed and bushy tailed you wish to have a go again despite the piteous state of our political class. That class though now needs to start listening to your needs and I implore you not to be passive. As a country, we need to be more competitive, more productive and more entrepreneurial. To be so, we could do with a bit more government help than hindrance and I also suggest you express what you need in terms of supply side policy to make your company more effective.
In this respect, the Coriolis team is an enabler of productivity and competitiveness and as such an excellent commercially focused supply side support from the private sector. As such Coriolis is on the same entrepreneurial page as you are and to me well worth engaging in to boost your capabilities.
I wish you well for post summer trade.