May 'listening a lot harder' to business after election

News at Jubb & Co | 12/06/2017

One of the country's top business spokesmen has said Theresa May's new Government is "listening a lot harder".

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, was speaking days after the Conservatives won the election but failed to win enough seats for a Commons majority.

This has left the direction of Brexit negotiations in doubt, with some commentators saying that having to work more closely with other parties may force Mrs May towards a softer Brexit.

Mr Marshall told Sky's Ian King Live programme: "I think perhaps over the past couple of months, my business communities have been very frustrated because they felt the economy wasn't front and centre in the election campaign.

"I think they know it's going to have to be front and centre now."

Mr Marshall said his organisation had always had "a lot" of access and "ongoing engagement" with the Government but added: "There's a difference between hearing and listening sometimes.

"I think they're listening a lot harder now after this result and we will certainly be pushing them to act on those real world business concerns."

The "real world business concerns" are mainly centred around Brexit and what it might mean for business owners.

Mr Marshall said: "Hard and soft Brexit don't really work for my membership.

"They talk to me about a business-friendly Brexit.

"They want to ensure they can continue to trade freely and that they've got answers to a lot of the practical questions they're always asking: Who can I hire? Who do I pay VAT to? Is my stuff going to get held up in customs?

"Those are the real-world issues they want answers to and, for them, hard versus soft, all those labels, don't really do it for them."

Many businesses had been trying to "screen out the noise of politics", Mr Marshall said, adding that they were instead focusing on running their businesses and how they would continue to do that.

"This (election) result makes the noise of politics a little harder to ignore, so a lot of businesses are sitting up and paying attention."