Commenting on the Conservative Party Manifesto published today, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“The Prime Minister rightly says that achieving a smooth and orderly Brexit is a priority, but she continues to say no deal is better than a bad deal. The two are incompatible as leaving the EU without a deal is a recipe for chaos. Anyone going into Brexit negotiations will of course need a clear mandate and a strong hand. By setting out how difficult it would be for the UK economy if Brexit is neither smooth, nor orderly, she is saying in effect that Britain must achieve a good deal on trade.
“To do that there will inevitably need to be compromise on all sides. It is business-critical for whoever is the Prime Minister to negotiate a deal that allows free and fair trade between the UK and our largest and most important market. Anything else will be failure.
“The Conservative Party’s manifesto gives business a clear and welcome commitment to a comprehensive industrial strategy, which we applaud. The Party’s commitment to tackling the vastly uncompetitive energy costs now faced by industry is just one example of the importance of this approach. If elected the Conservative government must work quickly to flesh out these detailed plans and implement them.
“Business will also welcome the intention to sticking with current business tax plans which offer stability and predictability for business. As ever, the small print will be important as government seeks to rebalance the fiscal deficit.
On plans to double the immigration skills charge Terry Scuoler added:
“There appears to be no rationale to justify doubling the immigration skills charge, other than the need to send some kind of signal to a section of the electorate. If the aim is to make it more difficult for companies, especially SMEs, to access the skills they, and the economy urgently need then this will do the trick.
“It not only impacts on the cost of doing business, but goes against the grain of a de-regulation agenda which appears to have slipped off the radar. Any future Government must remember the wealth, jobs and growth that the private sector generates and not take business for granted.”