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EU Referendum: Opportunities for Businesses

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 13 September 2016

12. What assessment his Department has made of potential opportunities for British businesses arising from the vote to leave the EU. (906285)

15. What assessment his Department has made of potential opportunities for British businesses arising from the vote to leave the EU. (906288)

The Government have made it very clear that we are open for business and are absolutely determined to make a success of leaving the EU, and that includes seizing the opportunity to negotiate our own trade agreements and to be a powerful and positive force for free trade.

I believe that leaving the EU offers great opportunities for British business in the future, although we must be aware of certain threats. My constituent Steve Otty has a business called Hindlow Technical, which works in the area of explosions protection. The situation is complex, but he has a registration system with the EU Commission, and he is concerned that being outside the EU will prevent that process and could hamper his business. Will my hon. Friend be vigilant on such issues, so that as well as providing the opportunities of leaving the EU, we can be ready to counter the threats?

I assure my hon. Friend that we want to make sure that the new relationship with the EU works for British businesses. His constituent Mr Otty raises an important point about the need to seek clarity on the ongoing recognition of the compliance certification that UK notified bodies grant. That is an important issue, and we are well aware of it. If his constituent would welcome a call or a meeting to discuss it, I am sure we could arrange that.

Does my hon. Friend welcome, as I do, the latest trade figures, which showed that despite the predictions of the crystal-ball-gazing doom merchants such as the remainiac TUC, our exports grew by more than £800 million in July after the positive EU referendum result? Can he confirm the number of businesses that he and his ministerial colleagues have spoken to that are positive about our economic future outside the EU?

I welcome any good news for the British economy, and although I voted remain, I agree 100% that we should be talking up our prospects and not talking them down. On the conversations that we have had, I simply say that the chairmen I have spoken to have expressed some desire for more certainty but are fundamentally optimistic about local prospects and keen to get on with it.

There is a British jurisdiction that is entirely accessed, by road, air and sea, through another European Union member state—the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. People there are absolutely of the opinion that they need to retain access to the single European market. What discussions has the Minister had with his Gibraltarian counterparts to make sure that that happens?

As the Secretary of State made clear, we are actively engaged in a series of conversations with stakeholders and international partners, and we are sure Gibraltar will be part of that.

Will the Minister or his team meet the leader of the official Opposition in Northern Ireland, of which my party is part, as we have an excellent document on the vision for the future of Northern Ireland after Brexit?

The short answer is yes. As the Secretary of State has said, we are keen to harvest all opinions and ideas on how we meet the fundamental and exciting challenge of how to transition to a post-Brexit world in a way that works for British business.