Skip to main content

Business Preparedness

Volume 664: debated on Thursday 5 September 2019

6. What recent discussions he has had with business groups to help ensure that they are prepared to leave the EU on 31 October 2019. (912279)

Since joining the Department on 27 July, I have personally met more than 20 business organisations. Since July 2016, Department for Exiting the European Union Ministers have collectively undertaken over 700 meetings with businesses and business organisations from every sector in the economy.

Northamptonshire is one of the most important logistics hubs in the UK, so what steps are the Department taking to make sure that those firms and businesses are up and ready to deal with a possible no-deal Brexit?

That is a very sensible question. The Department has engaged extensively with logistics companies and representative bodies from across the sector to ensure that they are prepared for 31 October. I encourage my hon. Friend and businesses to consult the public information campaign on to get a practical, step-by-step guide on what is required for business. That is a powerful thing to do—it is the right thing to do—in preparing to leave properly on 31 October.

What information can the Minister give us about what preparation has been done—what proactive contact his Department has made—with businesses that may not trade directly with Europe but whose supply chains or customers do so, and who therefore may not have availed themselves of the Government web pages?

I would certainly encourage those businesses to avail themselves of that opportunity. The Department has sent out 1,300 bits of information and that is captured on the website. I have engaged with businesses—I am the small and medium-sized enterprises champion for the Department—and the one thing that I have noticed is that larger businesses tend to be more prepared than smaller businesses, and particularly the type of which the hon. Lady speaks. The Government website is a rich source of information, so I encourage Members to return to their constituency and—alongside campaigning—promote the Government website.

There is a massive difference between some of the realistic concerns of businesses about no deal and some of the madcap scare stories that are going around. What is the Minister doing to ensure that there is an understanding of realistic concerns and to dismiss some of the other wild stories?

There will always be knockabout politics, but I would prefer to engage in the detail. I was in Northern Ireland last Thursday talking to businesses on the border and then in Belfast discussing alternative arrangements with a wide range of businesses, engaging them in the very real detail and not the high-level scare stories. There are concerns, and they are being dealt with, but they should not be confused with the bigger scare stories.