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Leaving the EU: Small Businesses

Volume 626: debated on Tuesday 27 June 2017

10. What safeguards the Government plan to put in place to protect small businesses as part of negotiations on the UK leaving the EU. (900026)

Ministers in the Department for Exiting the European Union and I are in regular discussions with small and medium-sized enterprises and their representatives, and we are arranging a joint ministerial roundtable with SMEs to ensure that their voices are heard throughout the Brexit negotiations. Only last week, the permanent secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and I held a roundtable with small businesses on the negotiations.

A survey by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 92% of exporting small businesses trade in the EU single market. How does the Minister predict those small businesses will be affected by the loss of our membership, and how will she ensure that the sector continues to be represented in any future negotiations?

The Government are committed to negotiating a full and open trade agreement with the European Union on our departure. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier, we are aiming for a situation in which no tariffs are applied to SMEs that export into the single market and there is no unnecessary bureaucracy.

Many SMEs in my constituency are part of European and global supply chains. Does the Minister understand that those businesses, as well as larger financial services businesses, need clarity and certainty? When will she and the Government be in a position to give those businesses certainty about the transitional arrangements that will be put in place? As she knows, businesses are already making investment or de-investment decisions.

The hon. Gentleman’s points are valid, but they are part of the ongoing negotiations, which, as he knows, have some way to go. However, we are defending our position as the No. 1 destination for foreign direct investment, and we will ensure that SMEs have a strong position in global supply chains into the future.