Queen’s Speech: answers needed to avoid ‘economic chaos’

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

The Queen's Speech provided unanswered questions, EEF said (Flickr/Chatham House)
The Queen's Speech provided unanswered questions, EEF said (Flickr/Chatham House)

Related tags European union Prime minister International trade

Manufacturers need urgent answers to key questions raised by the Queen’s Speech, in order to avoid “economic chaos”, says EEF, while the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) highlighted the importance of four key policy decisions.

EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said: “We need to know, quickly, how the benefits of the single market and customs union are going to be maintained during the complex period of untangling ourselves from EU membership and coming up with some form of trade agreement.

“Many questions still remain unanswered, however, and there must be a much closer partnership with industry if we’re to avoid economic chaos when we leave the EU.”

The Queen’s Speech included plans to increase the National Living Wage, and plans to tackle the gender pay gap. The government would work to attract investment in infrastructure to support economic growth, the speech added.

‘Unprecedented challenges’

The FDF said the speech revealed the magnitude of the “unprecedented challenges”​ facing the UK, and the need to deliver four key policies.

FDF director general Ian Wright said: “We are looking for four key outcomes – access to our valued EU workforce, a stable regulatory regime, zero-tariff trade, and frictionless trade across borders and recognition of Ireland’s special circumstances. Food and drink is central to the negotiations and must not be pushed aside.

“The bills announced today will require meaningful scrutiny in parliament and continuing consultation with business. It is imperative that parliamentarians remain focused on securing the right outcomes, and do not get side-tracked.

The sector would welcome Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to introduce a modern industrial strategy, and provide further help in securing export deals, EEF said. But, it was vital that May confirmed she was attempting to negotiate a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, post-Brexit.

‘Government is listening to concerns’

Scuoler said: “Manufacturers were looking for signs that the government is listening to their concerns over Brexit and the Queen’s Speech has moved some way to achieving this.

“We need to hear more from the prime minister that she is pressing for tariff-free trade, minimising uncertainty over customs and that companies will be able to employ the people with the range of skills they need, from the UK, Europe or elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, the British Beer and Pub Association was pleased the speech included the importance of working closely with business, and support for exports and skills.

Queen’s Speech: four key outcomes

  • Access to EU workers
  • Stable regulatory regime
  • Zero-tariff trade deal
  • Frictionless borders in Ireland

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