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The Queen’s Speech 2017

22 June 2017

Industry welcomes talk of a successful Brexit during this year’s Queen’s speech, but many questions remain unanswered and businesses are still concerned.

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Her Majesty opened the speech by stating the priority “is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union.” The speech went on to announce that a bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses and new legislation will ensure the UK makes a success of Brexit.

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.”

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, 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 PM 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.

“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.

“Industry will warmly welcome the commitment to strengthen the economy with a modern industrial strategy, help for exports and investment in infrastructure. We now need to see concrete plans on how Government plans to deliver the strategy as a matter of urgency to offset the potential impact of Brexit and political uncertainty.”

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to the Queen’s speech:

“It's reassuring that Government is committed to deliver plans for an Industrial Strategy, technical education, the next phase of High Speed Rail and support the UK’s automotive sector. However there are huge gaps in policy on issues such as air quality and how challenges posed by Brexit will affect key sectors such as the nuclear and Med Tech industries.

“It’s a disappointment that the Government still fails to recognise the crisis we are facing with deteriorating air quality, particularly in our cities. This needs concerted action across all sources of pollution and particulates. This could be achieved by a commitment to a programme which sets out international targets by which we can be judged on.

“Plans for a Nuclear Safeguards Bill are a start to the process of securing the UK nuclear sector post-Brexit, but there is still a lot of uncertainty for investors. The UK’s departure from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is likely to be complicated and difficult, but it also presents the country with an opportunity to reshape its nuclear industry and once again become a world-leading innovator in nuclear technology. Disappointingly the legislative programme outlined today shows little ambition for the future of the UK nuclear sector, with no mention of the potential of Small Modular Reactors which would not only help to meet future energy demand, but also to develop skills, local employment and future export business.

“It is also disappointing that the Med Tech sector was not mentioned as a priority ahead of Brexit negotiations. As part of the UK’s Brexit deal, it is vital that the UK is able to maintain continuity with the EU CE certification processes, and enable UK manufacturers to export medical devices into the European Med Tech market. This sector is worth £17bn to the UK economy and supports 90,000 jobs. There was also no mention of how the Government will mitigate the more than €1bn a year funding shortfall the UK faces once it is no longer eligible for European Research Council funding.”

For more information about the Institution’s view on how the UK’s departure from the EU will affect the nuclear and Med Tech sectors:

Medical Devices & CE Marking: the Impact of Brexit

Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future

To read the full version of the Queen’s Speech, click here.

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