Prime Minister Theresa May is eager to receive backing from the UK and Europe’s most prominent companies before Britain’s exit from the European Union becomes a reality.

On Thursday 1st November, the Prime Minister held a conversation with some of Europe’s largest companies from a range of sectors, including Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and Anglo-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical AstraZeneca. The discussion was an opportunity to garner support for the Prime Minister’s attempts to avoid a no-deal Brexit scenario and occurred just days after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the latest Budget.

A Change in Tone

The recent engagements with corporations by Theresa May have been seen as positive by business leaders, contrasting with the collective feelings in her early tenure when she was widely seen to be giving business the cold-shoulder. Earlier this year, many business groups were complaining about a lack of clear vision for the future of British industry, as top government officials struggled to navigate the general Brexit negotiations.

With optimism over the negotiations now reaching a crescendo and Brexit secretary Dominic Raab optimistically claiming that a deal could be achieved by the end of November, it’s finally looking like the government is ready to focus on businesses. This is positive news to follow the general positivity over the 2018 Budget, which itself is dependent on said negotiations with the EU.

The conversations hosted by the Prime Minister followed on from the formation of a flagship ‘Industrial Strategy Council’, consisting of leading figures from business, academia and civil society, in early October. Theresa May notably scrapped her predecessor David Cameron’s business advisory council when she came into power in 2016, although she did reconvene a similar group of executives for occasional meetings following her disastrous 2017 election campaign.

One of the key pillars to Theresa May’s successful acquisition of the Conservative Party leadership role following David Cameron’s resignation in 2016 was her focus on business. She became Britain’s Prime Minister thanks to her ideas on industries of the future and her desire to increase the spread of wealth. However, Brexit negotiations have since complicated her objectives, even more so than most sceptics would have expected. The growing complexity of her role has meant that it is only now, in these recent developments, that she can give leading business figures the attention – if not yet the detail – that they have been asking for.

Opportunities Post-Brexit

Along with trying to whip up support for evading a no-deal Brexit scenario, the business talks were also an opportunity to underline her desire to stick with the much-discussed ‘Chequers Plan’. Primarily her desire is to continue frictionless trade with the European Union beyond the UK’s exit from the bloc; a strategy believed to be advantageous to all. Although, EU Brexit negotiators have publicly rejected this and the final outlook for the UK after March 2019 is still not clear enough for major businesses.

Regardless of the Brexit outcome, even the most optimistic of business leaders will concede that a re-evaluation of supply chains will be necessary. At ERA, we have experts with countless years of experience across a range of specialist sectors that will work with your business to ensure you are implementing the most effective and tailor-made cost reduction strategies to achieve your goals.

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