Conservatives ‘civil war’ ‘undermines business confidence’

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Conservative Party in fighting is damaging manufacturers’ business confidence, claims BCC
Conservative Party in fighting is damaging manufacturers’ business confidence, claims BCC

Related tags: Conservative party

Manufacturers’ business confidence is being undermined by public disagreements in the Conservative Party, warns the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Industry was “growing impatient”​ with the “division and disorganisation”​ in the cabinet, which was undermining all business, including those operating in Britain’s biggest manufacturing sector – food and drink manufacturing, said BCC.

BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “Business people across Britain are growing impatient with division and disorganisation at the heart of the party of government, and have made it very clear that they expect competence and coherence from ministers as we move into a critical period for the economy.

“Public disagreements between cabinet ministers in recent weeks have only served to undermine business confidence, not just on Brexit negotiations, but also on the many issues where firms need to see clear action from government closer to home.”

‘Undermine business confidence’

It came after foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticised Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans last weekend, and demanded the transition period lasted “not a second more”​ than two years. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said the Conservatives were in the midst of a “civil war”​.

The BCC said the government needed to ensure the Brexit transition period and talks with the EU ran smoothly to shore up business confidence.

It should also increase its attention on the domestic issues that were discouraging business investment, the BCC added.

“Action to cut the up-front cost of doing business, build key infrastructure, help firms plug increasing skills gaps, and to support investment and risk-taking must be front and centre on the government’s agenda,”​ said Marshall.

‘Transition period lasting at least three years’

“On Brexit, businesses are clear that they want a comprehensive transition period, lasting at least three years, and pragmatic discussions on the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU firmed up by the end of 2017.

“They will judge the government’s progress on Brexit by this yardstick – not by public speeches or pronouncements – and will take investment and hiring decisions accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party Conference opened in Manchester on Sunday (October 1) and will close on Wednesday (October 4).

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