Sir Vince Cable tells Bristol businesses he hopes the economy will recover
KPMG in Bristol hosted an event with twenty local business leaders to debate the best tactics to navigate the changing strategic landscape following the EU Referendum.
At the event keynote speaker Sir Vince Cable told the audience he has hopes that in the long-term, the economy will adjust. But the risk, he said is that “The country will never recover the ground it has lost and won’t recover.”
The former MP added that Brexit would likely have a significant impact on SMEs, research investment at local universities, and local industry – including aerospace.
Mr Cable explained there are likely to be three phases following the Brexit vote – “economic shock, a recession, and a long-term strategy for recovery.”
For the country to thrive in the new climate, he believes the Government needs to “breathe new life into an industrial strategy”, including the pharmaceutical industry and car manufacturing.
He also stressed the importance for innovation and exporting to high-growth markets, as well as public infrastructure investment.
Richard Smith, CFO at Leonardo Helicopters UK, and Peter Morris, Chairman and CEO of Howard Tenens Associates Limited, were among a panel of experts for the debate.
Mr Smith, whose company sells helicopters to the UK and beyond, told the audience that “buying British” would help keep our economy strong.
His thoughts were echoed by Sir Vince, who believes the UK brand, “UK PLC” will set our products apart.
Business leaders were asked to vote on how concerned they were about the impact of Brexit on their businesses.
There was an equal spit between “very concerned” and “quite concerned”, while just one business leader said they weren’t concerned at all.
When asked if Brexit will present opportunities for their businesses, 64% felt “yes, absolutely” it would present opportunities, while 37% were less sure, voting for “maybe”.
Teresa Fisk, partner at KPMG in Bristol, said: “Since the vote, I’ve seen local businesses withholding investment decisions.”
She added that businesses should be taking a deeper look at their contracts with clients and suppliers, and unweaving the complicated web of EU legislations that might affect businesses.
She also advised business leaders to look at the competition, as they “might fare worse than your business as a result of Brexit, and give you a competitive advantage.”
The event was held at Mansion House.