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Support for Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

Volume 677: debated on Thursday 18 June 2020

What steps she is taking to support (a) small businesses and (b) the self-employed to trade internationally as part of the covid-19 recovery. (903439)

I know that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the unprecedented support for businesses and workers, including small businesses and the self-employed, that this Conservative Government have put in place. SMEs are the backbone of our economy and will be at the heart of the Department’s new export strategy as our response to covid-19.

Do the Government recognise that, aside from covid-19, one of the biggest threats to small businesses in the UK is reaching the end of the transition period with no trade deal? What assessment have they made of the number of SMEs in the UK that would go bust if faced with the toxic combination of covid-19 and a no-deal Brexit in December?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the importance of SMEs. They need Government support to enter international markets, and that is why the DIT exists. We are not responsible for negotiation with the EU, but we are confident that we will reach a good deal with it. The Department is putting SME chapters in our trade deals with other countries. It is a pity that the Labour party opposes every trade agreement and continually shows its indifference to small business and enterprise, but I am looking to the hon. Gentleman, as he may be able to do what no others have done and lead the shadow Secretary of State away from being an enemy of business and towards supporting it, as he does.