Queen’s Speech ‘paves the way for pro-business Brexit’

The Queen’s Speech has been heralded as paving the way for a ‘pro-business Brexit’ but criticised for being light on domestic reform.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said UK companies needed to see certainty and a commitment to low taxation.

The Confederation of British Industry also welcomed the Conservative’s “change in tone” but added that needed to be backed by clarity and action.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the FSB, said: “We are pleased with the ambition to provide certainty for businesses as we head towards Brexit and the commitment to low taxation.

“This is vital for small firms who are facing both uncertainty and rising costs of doing business. A thriving small business community, helped to grow by a supportive government, will be crucial to a strong post-Brexit economy.

“But it is disappointing that this Queen’s Speech was light on other domestic measures for small business.

“The government must knuckle down to tackle issues such as reform of the Business Rates system and changes to corporate governance, to stop big companies badly treating their small business suppliers and contractors.”

He added:  “The raft of Brexit Bills announced today must prioritise free and easy trade, and ensure small firms can access the skills and labour they need after the UK leaves the EU.

“It's good to see the commitment to special support to help British businesses export to new markets around the world, which we look forward to engaging with the government on.

“Small firms will be looking to the Immigration Bill to provide the UK with an immigration system that is responsive to the needs of employers, and there should be a transition period to any new system of at least three years after Brexit.

“The Bill to repeal the European Communities Act gives certainty to small businesses in the short-term that Brexit will not mean sudden big changes in regulation.

"On this, it is vital that there is no cliff-edge moment, even though in the long term Brexit provides an opportunity to simplify complicated Brussels processes to make rules much easier to comply with.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “It’s good to see that the recent heatwave has warmed the Government’s view of business and its contribution to people’s lives.

“But this welcome change in tone needs to be backed by clarity and action now.  Firms will expect all politicians to put pragmatism before politics, starting with Brexit.

“Fast action on Industrial Strategy, skills and infrastructure will show that the UK is a great place to do business.  But now it’s all about pace.”