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This Week in Brexit: Politics 19th August

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

This Week in Brexit: Politics

After a two week summer holiday, we are back with the latest happenings in the post-referendum world:

The Government

With Prime Minister Theresa May holidaying in neutral Switzerland, it’s been a relatively quiet week from Government.

The media entertained themselves by asking if Boris Johnson has been left running the country in her absence.

Never far from the headlines, Boris also came to the fore when leaked letters revealed Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, had tried to snaffle some powers from Boris’ department.

There were some positive messages from the PM in the Birmingham Mail on Thursday, calling the Birmingham and the Midlands a key part of the Government’s industrial strategy.

This follows a week of welcome interest in the regions from our new Government; last Thursday Secretary of State for the new department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, unveiled his new Local Growth Champions.

While details are still emerging about their full roles, these BEIS Ministers will be responsible for engaging Local Enterprise Partnerships. Our local Champion is Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, who will be the BEIS link to the following LEPs:

  • Greater Birmingham and Solihull
  • Black Country
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
  • Worcestershire
  • Gloucestershire
  • Liverpool City Region

Finally, more information on how the Apprenticeship Levy will work was released last Friday. Keep an eye out for our GBCC member briefing, coming soon to the policy documents section of our website.

The Opposition

The Labour leadership election continues.

This week’s controversy involved:

Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson raised concerns about Marxist revolutionaries infiltrating the ranks of the Labour Party, claims dismissed by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Leadership challenger Owen Smith suggested future negotiations between Islamic State and the West.

Jeremy Corbyn received a blow from his own party members. According to an Ipsos Mori survey, 39% of Labour supporters said they were satisfied with Mr Corbyn’s performance, while 45% were satisfied with Theresa May’s.

However, a survey by BMG showed that Jeremy Corbyn was the more popular of the two candidates amongst loyal Labour voters, but Owen Smith is the clear favourite of the general public.

While Corbyn remains the bookies favourite, we’ll finally know for sure who the leader of the opposition will be on the 24th September, just in time for the Labour Party Conference.

This Week at the Chambers

At the Chambers, we’ve been cracking on with helping our members define their own, and our region’s, future in this post-referendum environment.

On Tuesday we held a West Midlands Combined Authority consultation event in partnership with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. The event, at the fantastic iCentrum at Innovation Birmingham Campus, challenged the WMCA and delegates to share their thoughts on strategy and how the business and public sector can collaborate. For our write up, click here.

We’re also encouraging businesses to share their thoughts on the different functions it is proposed that the Mayoral WMCA could have. To take part in this consultation click here. The deadline for responses is COP 21st August.

For those interested in who the WMCA Mayor might be, we’re delighted to announce that we’re holding a business breakfast with the Labour Candidate, Siôn Simon MEP, on the 21st September, the first official candidate announced so far.

We are also continuing our Summer of Export Support, supporting members in exploring new markets and finding new suppliers and distributors. We’ve even launched a new Foreign Exchange product with our partners RationalFX.

Finally, on Monday we will be launching our latest Quarterly Business Report Survey. This will be our first QBR survey since the referendum and will give us a good indication of how businesses have been impacted to date and feel they may be impacted in future. Please do remember to take part, your responses really do matter.