British business leaders have voiced their dissatisfaction with the way Brexit negotiations are being handled, with almost four-fifths (78 per cent) stating the government are doing quite or very bad a job. That’s according to the 2017 Harvey Nash Birmingham Business Leaders Survey.
The survey of more than 130 senior business professionals was conducted ahead of Harvey Nash Birmingham’s Annual Business Lecture with Lord Digby Jones at the Crowne Plaza, NEC, which takes place tomorrow, 12th October.
Speaking at the event, Titled Deal or No Deal: The Future of British Business, Lord Jones will seek to provide clarity for business leaders, in a time when the only thing that seems certain is more uncertainty.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best
It might not be what business leaders want to hear, but waiting to see what happens come March 2019 is not a viable option. When asked how prepared they were for Brexit, just 11 percent of business leaders stated they have ‘mature plans and are on course to navigate Brexit successfully.’
A key theme of the upcoming Harvey Nash Birmingham event is realising the future of British business.
‘We can’t bury our heads in the sand and wait for Brexit to blow over. Despite all the unknowns, businesses must start planning for the county’s exit from the EU. To build a stable future, it’s imperative that businesses take action now by preparing for the worst, and playing out multiple scenarios. Such exercises often throw up new opportunities that might otherwise have been overlooked,’ comments Harvey Nash CEO, Albert Ellis, who will also be speaking at the event.
Writing on the wall for Prime Minister, but no alternative
The survey also revealed that 83 per cent of business leaders do not expect Prime Minister Theresa May to last until the 2022 General Election. However, when asked who should replace her, it is apparent that the business community is highly divided.
While Philip Hammond (17 per cent), Boris Johnson (14 per cent) and David Davis (11 per cent) are the most likely candidates, interestingly almost four in 10 (39 per cent) respondents chose, ‘other’, stating the need for a younger, more innovative, stronger leader.
The news isn’t good for Labour either. 91 per cent of survey respondents believe Jeremy Corbyn is bad for business, and 59 per cent think he would do a worse job in Brexit negotiations than the Conservatives.
Natalie Whittlesey, Director at Harvey Nash, adds, ‘The survey shows a complete lack of confidence in the current Government strategy among British businesses. A lack of clear vision for Britain outside the EU but continuing to prosper in a future trading relationship, has unsettled corporations and has led to uncertainty about the future. That’s bad for the economy, as businesses take a ‘wait and see’ approach to investing in research, innovation and people.
‘More worrying is the feeling that there isn’t a realistic alternative to today’s Government. Business leaders want change. They want a fresh approach, unburdened by all the infighting. Sadly, from the responses we received, no one in politics seems to fit that bill.’