“We have had some tough choices to make.” Fox’s speech at Royal Portbury Dock. Full text.

“The divisions of the referendum need to be consigned to the past. Now is the time to…lead our country to a future of freedom, success, and prosperity.”

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, gave the following speech today at the Royal Portbury Dock.

It’s a pleasure to be here this morning at the Royal Portbury Dock.

As MP for North Somerset, as well as Secretary of State for International Trade, it’s fair to say I have a significant interest in the success of a venture that supports more than 500 jobs in my constituency.

And I can’t help but notice that business is booming.

At the time of the referendum, we were told that just voting to leave the EU would cause such an economic shock that we’d lose half a million jobs, our investors would desert us, and we would require an emergency budget to deal with the ensuing fiscal imbalance.

What’s happened since? We’ve added over 700,000 jobs to the economy, with more people finding work than at any time in the past 40 years.

This upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing. Indeed, the OBR has calculated that we can add another 800,000 jobs without creating inflationary pressure, because there’s still slack in the economy.

In 2017 we saw total UK exports rise by 10.9% compared with 2016.

And what did we sell? We sold almost £50 billion worth of mechanical machinery, £41 billion worth of motor vehicles, £16 billion worth of aircraft and £14 billion worth of medical equipment.

And, as I have to mention on St Andrew’s Day, some £4.3 billion of Scotch Whisky.

So much for Britain not making anything anymore. And that’s before we even consider our world-leading services sector.

Clearly, the vote to leave the European Union has not had the catastrophic effect on our economy that was predicted. Quite the reverse.

Now is the time to raise our sights, and acknowledge that there is a world beyond Europe, and a time Beyond Brexit.

My Department for International Trade exists to look to this world, and plan for that time. Perhaps more than any other part of government, we are mandated to look beyond the process of leaving the EU and to prepare for the open, global future that lies ahead.

The referendum settled the question of our departure from the European Union and our manifesto made clear that we will leave the Customs Union and the Single Market as we do so.

The IMF has predicted that 90% of global growth in the next 5 years will originate outside the EU. So the question is, where do we, as a nation, position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities that this growth will produce.

Future relationship with the EU

The government has made clear that we want to take a balanced approach to the question of our future trading prospects. We need to maximise our access to the EU market but without damaging our potential to benefit from emerging trade opportunities in other parts of the world.

The 27 nations of the European Union constitute some of our largest trading partners. As a whole, some 44% of this country’s exports of goods and services still go to the EU, although that proportion has been declining over the past decade or so.

The withdrawal agreement, and the political declaration on the future relationship, have put us on the verge of securing a deal with the European Union.

It is a deal that delivers on the result of the referendum, ending vast payments to Brussels, and giving the UK control over our own borders for the first time in a generation.

Of course, the end of free movement does not mean the end of immigration. The UK is always open to those who want to work hard and build a life here. But now, we can offer a level playing field, ensuring that we can admit the people we need to meet business demand, wherever they come from – so it won’t matter if you were born in Marseilles, Memphis or Mumbai. The key difference is that we will set the rules according to what we believe is best for our own country.

Above all else, the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration provide the stability and certainty that businesses crave, as well as a firm foundation on which to continue to operate across the EU.

The political declaration proposes the creation of a free trade area for goods, combining deep regulatory and customs co-operation with no tariffs, no fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all goods sectors.

This would be the first such agreement between an advanced economy and the EU, a recognition of the unique position of the UK and our economy to those of our European partners.

Ambitious arrangements have been made in the political declaration for services and investment, arrangements that go well beyond WTO commitments and build on recent EU FTAs.

And an arrangement on financial services, grounded in the economic partnership, provides greater cooperation and consultation than is possible under existing third country frameworks.

But we have also been clear that our future relationship with the EU would recognise the development of an independent UK trade policy and not tie our hands when it comes to global opportunities.

We have set out an approach which means the UK would be able to set its own trade policy with the rest of the world, including setting our own tariffs, implementing our own trade remedies, and taking up our independent seat at the World Trade Organization.

FTA Consultations

Perhaps most importantly, during the implementation period, my department will have the freedom to negotiate, sign and ratify new trade agreements. . The Withdrawal Agreement means that, from the 29th of March next year, we can begun to build closer commercial relationships with our closest allies, such as the US, New Zealand and Australia, as well as laying the groundwork for improved market access for UK companies to key global growth economies.

As some of you may know, we recently carried out extensive public consultations on our future FTAs with those three nations, as well as on the UK’s potential accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – known as CPTPP.

Leaders across these nations have been clear in their endorsement of future trade agreements with the UK.

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan put it, we would “be welcomed with open arms”. Far from being isolated, Britain will be an ‘in-demand’ trading partner.

Over 14 weeks, we asked businesses, organisations and individuals to tell us what they needed from these FTAs, and how the Department for International Trade can help them to thrive internationally.

The response rate was phenomenal, far exceeding all expectations.

Above all, the exercise demonstrated the interest that exists in the shape of the UK’s future trade policy, right across the country.

How do we take advantage of this groundswell of interest and engagement from businesses and individuals?

The answer is to harness that enthusiasm to boost exports and attract investment to this country. Clearly, businesses the length and breadth of Britain are eager to move into new markets overseas.

If we want Britain to become a global exporting superpower, all we have to do is unlock that potential.

Even before we get to new trade opportunities afforded by new trade agreements there are still considerable export opportunities for British businesses to exploit in existing markets. We still have ground to make up on our international competitors in many of these countries.

Export Strategy

Our new Export Strategy, published in August, is an important first step to doing just that.

I won’t exhaust you with the detail. But suffice to say that the Export Strategy represents one of the most comprehensive export packages offered to businesses anywhere in the world, designed to inform, connect, encourage and finance exporting opportunities for businesses of all sizes.

There are currently over 24,000 live export and investment opportunities on our website. Put simply, the world wants what Britain is selling. Businesses large and small can find these real-time opportunities at great.gov.uk.

Royal Portbury Dock

And the Royal Portbury Dock where we now stand is a perfect example of the dynamic, global outlook that hundreds of thousands of British businesses have already embraced.

In 1991 the dock was owned and managed by Bristol Council, and it was regarded as a ‘white elephant’.

Since the port was privatised almost 30 years ago and reborn as the Bristol Port Company, over £500 million has been invested to turn this into one of the most capable and advanced ports in the United Kingdom.

Each year, the Bristol Port Company handles some 750,000 motor vehicles, 27% of UK aviation fuel imports, 10% of coal imports, and more than 6 million tons of bulk dry goods.

In all, the work done here at Portbury, and at Avonmouth, contributes over £1 billion to the British economy. Now that is something to be proud of.

Integrated imports and exports

This port, and dozens like it across the UK, shows that the UK’s global commercial footprint is not just about what we sell overseas, but also what we import into this country.

It is crucial in ensuring that competition provides consumers with greater choice and at affordable prices.

But in a highly integrated economy it would also be wrong to ignore the huge and necessary role that imports play in the production of goods and services for export – some 23% of all UK exports have some added value or component that originated as an import.

Less than half of this value added originates in EU countries. And it shows how the United Kingdom is already closely linked to global value chains, that extend far beyond the boundaries of Europe.

In the long-term, a global future for an economy as large, diverse and interconnected as ours was inevitable. Our departure from the EU, combining an open, comprehensive trade relationship there, with the possibility of creating new trading relationships elsewhere is the next phase of that journey.

WTO/The changing world of trade

Internationally, of course, a wholesale revolution in the patterns of trade has already arrived. The tectonic plates of global commerce are shifting under our feet. Our future FTAs are hugely important – not least because they are strategic as well as economic tools – but in the long run, it is not what we do unilaterally, or even bilaterally, that will make the biggest difference.

Instead, it is working to update and improve the rules-based international system that governs global trade.

How the multilateral trading environment develops will almost certainly be the most crucial determinant of the degree of trade liberalisation that will occur and consequently the scale of future opportunities.

This is an area in which the UK will play a pivotal role. The world’s fifth-largest economy taking its seat at the WTO, as a powerful and unabashed defender of free trade, will be a key moment for the United Kingdom. It is one of the most important, if seldom mentioned, aspects of Brexit.

With 164 full members, the WTO is the home of the rules-based international system, and the crucible of free and fair global trade.

Yet even they will admit that their current rules are in need of updating.

The fundamental framework of the WTO’s rules has not changed substantially since 1995. A time before the widespread use of business email. A time before internet banking. A time before data became a valuable traded commodity, like cars and steel.

Consider this: back in 1995, if I asked you whether the digital code that I have sold you on the internet to make something on your 3D printer counts as a good or a service, you wouldn’t even begin to understand the question, let alone be able to answer it!

This is an example of how the real economy has moved and outgrown the rules and regulations that still attempt to govern it.

It’s not just the architecture of the WTO itself that needs reform, but also the regulatory framework, which must be flexible enough to move with the new realities of the global economy, updating itself in real time.

The Prime Minister acknowledged this recently in a speech at the Guildhall when she observed that goods as a proportion of UK and global commerce are declining.

This will be a priority as she attends the G20 in Argentina, where she will hold trade talks with world leaders including Argentinian President Macri. The leaders are expected to agree the first ever UK Trade Envoy for the country.

And as the proportion of trade in goods declines, the digital and knowledge economy are racing ahead, as new products and services emerge from the disruption that technology has left in its wake.

The future of world trade has already arrived, and the United Kingdom is ideally prepared to realise all the opportunities of the digital age and embrace the possibilities of communications technology as a commercial tool.

To take just one example, a higher proportion of retail spending takes place online in the UK than anywhere else on earth. More than China or the USA. More than South Korea. More than Japan.

Recent research by PayPal found that in the 12 months to July, 1 in 7 online shoppers globally had bought goods from the UK – more than any other European country.

In fact., overall, they found that the UK was the third most popular country in the world from which to buy goods online, behind only the US and China.

There are few countries that are as prepared for the coming digital economic revolution as the United Kingdom.

The world’s investors already know this – last year, the UK tech sector attracted more venture capital investment than Sweden, France and Germany combined.

The simple fact is that this country is already a genuine world-leader in fields from artificial intelligence, to digital and data trade, to e-commerce and FinTech.

In the knowledge economy, Britain’s shelves are already stacked with what the world wants to buy.

This is not to say that we are falling behind in goods. On the contrary, those same factors that have made us a global powerhouse of the digital economy have enabled us to retain the cutting-edge of advanced manufacturing.

For example, 17% of all the aerospace products sold in the entire world come from the United Kingdom.

Nearly half of the world’s planes are flying on wings that have been designed, engineered or assembled within just a few miles of where we are today, either in Filton or across the water in Wales.

And how do these wings reach their customers in every corner of the world? They are shipped on specialised ferries from right here in the Royal Portbury Dock.

The world beyond Europe, and the future beyond Brexit, starts right here.

And if you want to know if the world has confidence in this new Global Britain, then look at our investment record and see where global investors are choosing to put their money.

According to UNCTAD, in the first 6 months of 2018 the UK was second only to China in terms of FDI, ahead of the United States and data published by Ernst and Young showed that all parts of the UK and all England regions are benefiting with around 50,000 jobs created as a result.

In the 19th Century, Britain became the world’s first free-trading nation. In the 20th century, we helped to design and create the architecture of global trade.

And in the 21st, we will help reshape the rules-based international system through our independent trade policy.

Today I can announce that in April, when we become an independent trading nation once more, I will push for three key things:

Firstly, the UK will aim to revolutionise the rulebook on digital trade. The existing framework of international trade is vitally important to the functioning of the global economy. Yet, as we have seen, all too often its rules are outdated and unfit for purpose, acting as a brake on the digital economy.

There are too many innovative, rapidly growing companies who find it too difficult to operate overseas because of ridiculous barriers like unjustified server localisation requirements.

Our ambition is to negotiate agreements that go further on digital trade than ever before.

To join those agreements, such as the CPTPP, which take digital seriously.

And to work in coalition with other like-minded countries to drive reform on digital services at the WTO.

Secondly, we will put services at the heart of our trade policy.

The mass liberalisation that has reduced barriers on global goods trade, has never been mirrored for services. Yet the UK is an 80% services economy and has huge comparative advantage across the service sectors, from accountancy and legal, to science, research and development.

Services are a huge part of our present, and will be a larger part of our future, and we must play to our strengths, creating partnerships with countries around the world who want what we have to offer.

This is our commitment to the British SMEs of today, so that they can become the digital giants of the future.

And thirdly, we will continue to fight trade protectionism and improve international economic co-operation.

This is not something that Britain will be doing alone. As the political declaration with the EU says, our unique relationship with the EU 27 will ensure that we can work together to improve global trade, while continuing to develop and operate our own independent trade policy.

But our steadfast commitment to the philosophy and practice of free trade is an irreducible element of what we believe and who we are.

The withdrawal agreement and the political declaration will not please everyone, and we have had some tough choices to make. Choices which many in Parliament, on both sides of the House, are yet to face up to.

But the deal we’ve reached will give us a firm and stable base on which to leave the EU and build this country’s global future, a future that still encompasses Europe, of course, but also the wide fast-growing markets beyond, with all the opportunity that entails.

We will maximise our post-Brexit opportunities by helping British businesses take advantage of the considerable untapped potential of existing markets.

We will use our independent trade policy to negotiate new trade agreements and we will use our ability to act independently at the WTO to shape the global trade environment of the future, defending the open, free and fair trade that is crucial to the elimination of poverty, the nurturing of stability and the building block of our collective security.

We are well prepared for the future of world trade. We are embracing all the possibilities of the digital economy.

No other country has the same combination of fundamental strengths that will allow us to thrive in an age where knowledge and expertise are the instigators of success. Our recent export and investment performance show that sceptics have been wrong. Britain is flourishing.

The divisions of the referendum need to be consigned to the past. Now is the time to set aside our differences, and lead our country to a future of freedom, success, and prosperity.

In politics we cannot always have the luxury of doing what we want for ourselves, but we have an abiding duty to do what is right for our country.

William Wallace writes…A way to bring our national community together

I am a man of the people. You are part of the metropolitan liberal elite. They are enemies of the people, citizens of nowhere. That’s the populist self-characterization that more and more right-wing politicians are now making. It’s an easy appeal to the ‘ordinary’ person against the sophisticated, over-educated and privileged. It works very well […]

I am a man of the people. You are part of the metropolitan liberal elite. They are enemies of the people, citizens of nowhere.

That’s the populist self-characterization that more and more right-wing politicians are now making. It’s an easy appeal to the ‘ordinary’ person against the sophisticated, over-educated and privileged. It works very well even when wielded by old Etonian Oxbridge graduates like Boris Johnson, or former city traders like Nigel Farage. The terms ‘elite’ and ‘establishment’ are elided, and blended with ‘liberal’, into a hostile image of people who claim superiority because of their expertise and knowledge, against those who prefer instinct and ‘common sense’.

There was a wonderful example of the genre in the Daily Telegraph of November 23rd, a letter under the headline “This ‘No Brexit deal’ by the political elite treats the majority who voted Leave with disdain” – signed by 15 Conservative peers, eight of them hereditary, three of them with peerages dating from the 17th century or earlier. If these are men of the people, I’m the king of Scotland. There was another in the Sun on Sunday, on November 25th, from Lord Digby Jones, one of the most self-important members of the House of Lords: ‘the British people – as if they needed further confirmation after what has gone on over the past few months – have been let down by the political class and the establishment elite.’ We should ridicule such claims whenever we see them.

But how do we respond to the populist appeal that’s swept across Britain and many other democratic countries – given that the disillusion with ‘conventional’ politics that is linked to populism makes voters less willing to listen to the reasoned arguments we would prefer to make? I suggest that we have to engage with issues of values, identity and citizenship, and we have to respond to their justified grievances – in order to allay some of the unjustified grievances that populist leaders have encouraged them to focus on.

There’s a rapidly-growing pile of studies on ‘the white working class’ and their sense of displacement by economic and technological change, social disruption, and – of course – immigration. The towns that voted most strongly for Brexit in Britain range from seaside resorts that have been displaced by foreign holidays to mill towns and mining villages where ‘the dignity of labour’ has given way to the indignities of casual work and shrinking benefits. There are real grievances here. Economic and regional inequality in Britain is wider than in any other European country (yes, the USA is worse). Public spending, on infrastructure, schools, housing, is lower in England’s north than its more prosperous south. The most recent figures show that Yorkshire and the North-East have suffered most from cuts in central support for local authorities. New OECD figures show that the UK and US spend less than 10% of what Denmark and Norway spend per head on training; FE colleges and apprenticeship schemes are struggling to keep going.

Any progressive party should therefore be setting out a long-term programme of public investment: in schools, in further education and training, in local regeneration, and in social housing. And we should be explicitly committed to reducing inequality, through progressive taxation and changes in corporate governance. And, as we fight to get ourselves heard above the cacophony of voices on Brexit, we should argue that it’s impossible to narrow the divisions that Brexit has exposed without spending more money to hold our national community together.

Popular confusion about whether referendums or parliamentary elections are a surer guide for good government reflects the failure of political education over several generations. The decline of local democracy has sharpened public perceptions that politics is a distant occupation played out in Westminster, rather than an activity in which citizens should share. We must make the case for education in citizenship, in all schools, and for devolution of power to local authorities to relate democratic decisions to voters’ concerns.

British history, and national identity, has been dominated since Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands war by a right-wing narrative of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, of England as naturally free and continental Europe as naturally authoritarian. This is a subject for a lengthier article, and an intellectual campaign to combat the ‘Historians for Britain’ who were part of the Brexit campaign – but we can’t avoid tackling the gut issues of British identity, our place in the world, and our imperial legacy, if we are to remake the case for a liberal Britain.

Unless we are content to confine ourselves to winning the minority of seats that have high concentrations of university-educated professionals, we have to present well-articulated alternatives to voters in these areas that can persuade them that we deserve their support.

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

May’s Deal 1) Andrew Feldman – Party members must back it and her. Let’s not give Corbyn the crisis he craves.

If he can’t get an early election, he would take a disorderly departure from the EU, leading to a recession – and to victory at a later date.

Andrew Feldman is a former Chairman of the Conservative Party.

In recent months, I have spent time talking to business leaders in the UK and around the world. They all have two questions for me. Is there going to be a Brexit deal? Is there a chance that Jeremy Corbyn will become Prime Minister? My reply is always the same. That those two questions are inextricably linked.

If there is a sensible deal, then it is likely that the UK will enjoy an economic boost, releasing pent-up investment from a period of deep uncertainty. Businesses based here would stop sitting on their hands and commit to the new factories, warehouses and capital projects that we need. Investors abroad would once again feel confident that the UK was ‘open for business’, and would seek out the immense opportunities that we offer.

If this happens, the prospects of Corbyn being elected recede dramatically. Improving economic growth and confidence would facilitate continuing high levels of employment, wage growth and investment in public services. The Conservatives would secure their hard-won reputation for responsible government, fiscal prudence and effective management of the economy.

On the other hand, if there is not a deal, and a chaotic exit from the EU, the picture will change dramatically. Businesses will not only sit on their hands, but may start to withdraw activity from the UK. Investment from abroad may be replaced by dramatic divestment. Now of course, over time things may settle down. But there will undoubtedly be a risk of serious economic dislocation – causing substantial job losses, slowing growth and curbing the ability to improve public services.

And of course, Corbyn and John McDonnell are desperate for that to happen – some kind of shock to the UK that can help to win them power. Ideally, they want to force an early general election, because the Conservatives can’t agree on a plan. Failing that, they would take a violent and disorderly departure from the EU, leading to a recession – and then to election victory at a later date.  Chaos and uncertainty are their route to power.

This is more than ruthless ambition; it is rooted in ideology. Karl Marx predicted the inevitable demise of capitalism as part of the great tide of history. Frustratingly for him, it never happened. Living in England until the end of his life, he marvelled at the ability of the British to adapt their system. To accommodate the needs and demands of their changing industrialised economy. His theory did not predict the peaceful emergence of the NHS or the welfare state. He died miserably ruminating over his unfinished sequel to Das Kapital.

The Marxists in Britain have been continually disappointed. They have lurked at the fringes of Labour politics for many years. Unfortunately, they have now entered the mainstream. They are waiting to seize their moment to impose their already discredited ideology on generations who have not experienced its horrors first hand.

It is the duty of the Conservative Party to stop this happening. A Corbyn-led Labour Government would be a disaster for this country. And although Brexit is undoubtedly a seismic event; there is no need to for it to lead to a Tsunami, destroying all before it. The Conservative Party has faced momentous moments before. The reaction has always been pragmatism. Evolution not revolution. Steadiness and deal-making.

In her speech in Birmingham, Theresa May reminded us of this legacy. She asked her Party to come together in the national interest to deliver a solution to the Brexit conundrum. To help her to thread the needle of respecting the democratic result of the referendum; of preserving our proud Union; of keeping the economy on track and business on side, and of finding a fair basis for trading with our close neighbours and allies.

We are leaving the EU: the referendum result must be respected. As with all marriages, it may end with sour words and slamming doors. But once the anger has subsided, we need to come together to work out the future, to protect the interests of the next generation. We need to be grown up enough to accept that although we are going through a divorce, we cannot just walk away from our responsibilities and move on. This can take time and involve ongoing obligations.

And as the Prime Minister reminded us, it is not just Conservatives who need to stand firm. Our friends in the DUP know what a Corbyn Government could mean. They know that his well-documented Republican sympathies would risk the break-up of the Union. He longs for a United Ireland with the same passion that he dislikes the United Kingdom.

So we need to make sure that we rally behind the Prime Minister and help her to deliver a sensible, measured deal. We need to do this to frustrate Corbyn and McDonnell. We need to do this in the national interest. And we need to do this to keep Marx spinning in his grave up in Highgate.

Howard Flight: The best part of a week on, we can see that last week’s Budget was a popular one

The Chancellor has been fortunate that the public finances have improved substantially at a particularly convenient time.

Lord Flight is Chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund, and is a former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Philip Hammond has been fortunate that the public finances have improved substantially at a particularly convenient time. Economic growth has been revised up next year to 1.6 per cent; employment has been revised up, with 800,000 more jobs than forecast in 2023; wages will rise above inflation for the next five years.

The borrowing target has been met three years early, with the deficit now down to 1.9 per cent of GDP. The debt target has also been met three years early at a peak of 85 per cent of GDP. Borrowing is £11.6 billion lower than forecast at 1.2 per cent of GDP. This has improved significantly the scope of what the Budget can seek to address.

Overall public spending will increase by 1.2 per cent per annum, between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent less than forecast growth. The improved tax yields have enabled the Prime Minister’s NHS commitment to be fully funded.

The Chancellor presented a pragmatic “micro” Budget, seeking to address virtually all of the issues which came up as needing attention. Yet perhaps its most important ingredient was a significant cut in taxation for the majority next April – increasing the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate to £50,000 a year.

Local Authorities are getting an extra £1 billion of funding and business rates for retailers with rateable values below £51,000, will be cut by a third for two years. A further £1.7 billion each year will be provided to benefit working families on Universal Credit with the work allowance – the amount families can earn before losing credits – being increased by £1000 per annum.

A new two per cent digital services tax to insure that large digital firms pay a “fair share” of tax, is expected to raise £400 million per annum. Schools will get a further 400 million this year and defence will get a further £1 billion this year and next. There is also £160 million for counter-terror police. The national living wage will increase by nearly five per cent to £8.21. The national productivity investment fund will be increased to £37 billion and will be extended to 2024. Large roads will get £28.8 billion for 2020-25, and even potholes will get £420 million! PFI will be abolished, leaving a bill for £200 billion to be honoured.

There was a range of extra funding largely for small business – extending the annual investment allowance to £1 million; extending the start-up loans programme for 10,000 entrepreneurs; delivering the lowest corporation tax rate in the G20; keeping three million small businesses out of VAT; reducing the cost of taking on apprentices by halving the co-investment rate for non-levy payers; £121 million to support cutting-edge digital manufacturing; £78 million to fund electric motor innovations; £315 million in quantum technologies and £50 million for new Turing Fellowships.

Measures to help more people into home ownership include abolishing stamp duty retrospectively for first time buyers of all shared ownership properties of up to £500,000; an additional £500 million for the housing infrastructure fund; committing over £7.2 billion to a new help to buy equity loan scheme to support 110,000 new home buyers and the abolition of the housing revenue account cap controlling local authority borrowing for house building.

There are measures for those keen on the environment and more money for the Transforming Cities fund. Remarkably, the Chancellor has addressed virtually all the issues of concern to citizens and, as a result, I think, the best part of a week on, that this has proved to be a very popular Budget. The one important reform it has not addressed is the confiscatory rates of stamp duty on larger properties in London and the South East. This had led to a freezing up of the market – bad for revenues and for economic mobility.

Alexander Temerko: The relationship between business and government has never been as meaningless as under May

The key to a good Brexit is empowering UK entrepreneurs to talk to their European counterparts and become ambassadors for Downing Street’s plan.

Alexander Temerko is an industrialist and a Conservative Party donor and activist.

Never has the relationship between business and Number Ten been as meaningless or fruitless as under Theresa May. She continues to repeat the mantra that she is leading a pro-business government, but that is an exaggeration. Hers is not an anti-business government – that would be a more accurate way of putting it.

A pro-business government is what Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron led in their day; it’s what Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel are leading today. Despite her soft-spot for SMEs, our Prime Minister is undeniably afraid of global business.

Globalisation has shown that big business and public-private partnerships (something we hardly see in the UK anymore) are the real long-term drivers of a steadily growing modern economy. The presence of global business centres is what makes the difference between a country that’s prosperous and one that’s merely surviving. Indeed, such business is the powerful locomotive, pulling along SMEs and much of the socio-economic activity in the regions.

Business leaders have always been there to support May’s Government at the most critical times. Yet our “strong and stable” leader has repeatedly shunned any direct engagement with business in favour of sporadic consultations with the trade lobby, whose academic experts’ interests have long since been prioritised over representation of any actual economy sectors.

The Prime Minister has a presidential style of leadership. Her talent is for forming small, quasi-familial groups of trusted advisers. While David Cameron was comfortable working with big diversified teams, she seems reluctant to engage with the broad meritocratic audiences whose praises she so often sings. This desire to keep discussions tightly controlled has had a negative impact on almost every key policy decision taken to date. It is time to change.

Today, not only the country’s economy but also its integrity hinges on the UK business community backing the Brexit plans proposed by the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. No-one wants Brexit to be a disaster – but how to avoid it without break-through ideas and bold compromises?

The British economy will quickly lose its appeal should financial, industrial and services majors, driven by impending uncertainty and the fear of mounting responsibility to shareholders, relocate their headquarters and investment capital to more profitable jurisdictions with more predictable regulations. This could, in turn, trigger almost instant separatist rhetoric and action by the country’s subsidised regions.

Inside the eye of the Brexit storm, this outcome would be increasingly irreversible. People will start going by the saying “Better a painful ending than endless pain”. One person will certainly be delighted with a “painful ending”: his name is Vladimir Putin. Are we willing to afford him the pleasure? The answer is clear even to Jeremy Corbyn and Jacob Rees-Mogg, both of whom have been aiding this “painful ending” by holding on to his very own wrong end of the stick.

Europe would suffer, too. Take just one example from my industry: 70 per cent of our utilities are owned by European firms. Machinery and metal products are another trade goldmine for European business. At a time of escalating conflict with the US and sanctions or restrictions in trade relations with China, Russia, Iran and others, this is key. Europe just cannot lose Britain with its import-oriented economy as well. If that happens, countries right at the heart of Europe – France, Germany, Portugal, and to some extent Belgium and Holland too – will feel the pain.

However, in these countries, business is much more influential and integrated with the operation of Government. European business wants to live and wants to live well – which makes it our best ally in promoting a sensible responsible Brexit.

Businesses talk best with other businesses. They will not waste time talking when they don’t know if they are being heard by the Government, though. Hence, the key to a good Brexit is empowering UK entrepreneurs to talk to their European counterparts and become official ambassadors for the Government’s Brexit plan.

The other key piece of the puzzle is for May to accept the Irish border backstop – provided that the EU undertakes to guarantee our country’s integrity. This would restrain any spontaneous separatist movements in the UK, at least for as long as the EU continues to exist. If accession to the EU is all but impossible for any breakaway state, withdrawal from the UK would be pointless.

What happens if our Government does not create the broad coalition of business it needs and push bold compromises through? Quite simply, if there is no deal hammered out by December, a new election will be the only option to avoid the catastrophe of no deal.

If the Chequers plan falls through, it clear to almost everyone today that Parliament will not accept any other plan – be it Canada-plus, Australia-minus or a No Deal. The European Commission for its part, will not consider any new proposals, since none of them could get a majority in the UK Parliament and Europe will itself be moving into EU Parliament elections.

All that’s left are two options. They are both domestic – either a new referendum or another snap election. It is up to Parliament and our political elites to choose. They have to choose between their two great fears: the fear of a new election which is highly likely to mean a coalition government, and the fear of a new referendum that goes against Brexit.

George Freeman: There was much to cheer in the Budget. But now we need an inspiring programme for growth.

At the moment, we are treading water and appear to be relying on popular support for Brexit, and the threat of Corbyn, to keep us in office.

George Freeman MP is Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum and The Big Tent Ideas Festival, and is MP for Mid-Norfolk.

On Monday, the Chancellor announced that “austerity is coming to an end”. Politically, there was a lot to cheer in this Budget – some good news and headlines for struggling high streets, our crucial Universal Credit reform, NHS workers and the vast majority of constituents who rely on public services. Furthermore, there were many helpful retail pledges for colleagues in marginal seats. Given the Brexit divisions and infighting, we badly needed some good news.

But if we are going to end the biggest squeeze on disposable incomes since the war, the central question for our future is this: how can we get back to the 2.5-3 per cent growth that we enjoyed pre-Brexit? Before the EU Referendum, we were one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and the G7. Now we’re one of the slowest-growing.

The Budget invites the public to judge us on different metrics – no longer on our commitment to balance the books (abandoned) or reduce the debt (still growing), but on our ability to “end austerity”. People will now need to feel tangible improvements and see how Brexit can be a catalyst for much higher growth and prosperity.

Because this Budget won’t be decided on the comment pages of broadsheets. It will be decided on the ground.  By parents chatting at the school gates. Families looking after their ageing relatives in care homes. Commuters stuck in traffic jams because the housing has come, but the infrastructure hasn’t. Or the millions standing on trains every morning who’ve shelled out £2,000 for a season ticket and feel ripped off.

I no longer advise the Prime Minister, but here’s what I’d say if I still did. We need to remind people that every public sector pound has to be earned before it is spent, and that we need a more inspiring programme of business-led growth to drive prosperity and opportunity.  This means some big changes.

First, accelerating our transition from a service economy to an innovation nation.  Innovation is key to our driving up productivity, prosperity, inward investment and exports. We won’t escape debt with growth at 1.5 per cent and low productivity.  We need a renaissance of enterprise and innovation.  Such buccaneers as James Dyson and Richard Branson have done more to transform this country’s prospects than any government department ever will.  We need to stop the business-bashing and promote entrepreneurship and innovation. While the UK is still a crucible of start-up entrepreneurship, the engine is not yet humming: we have too many start-ups that are never scaled up, too little of our innovation funded by the City and too little that is taken global by British companies. We need a new national mission. We must be the innovation nation.

Second, tangible access to new markets for our innovation.We can’t just do research.  We need to innovate, manufacture and trade.  If Brexit means anything, it surely means an opportunity to go global. But that can’t mean importing cheap food and cheap clothes from sweatshops. We need to be exporting our innovation. The UK should be using every tool possible to unlock access to the fastest emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

For 40 years our whole economy has been geared to our being a European services economy. Why don’t we make Brexit the moment to embrace a new global strategy for higher growth through exporting technology and innovation into emerging markets? If the opportunity is properly seized, we could use our Industrial Strategy and public sector innovation to make Britain a crucible of new technology scale up and financing through the City.

We could then use our aid budget and global soft power in emerging markets to grow our exports and trade links with the fastest growing economies. Why don’t we offer some of the fastest emerging countries where we have a strong historic links a deeper Aid, Trade and Security Development Partnership?

Third, harnessing the public sector as a test bed of innovation. We’ll never export our innovation if we’re not using it ourselves. Innovation can’t be just about making a lucky few in the City rich beyond their wildest dreams. In order for us to be a test bed for new technology, we need to put enterprise and innovation at the heart of the public sector.  If we want to lead the world in digital health, we won’t do it unless the NHS is already a pioneer. You can have as many digital health clusters in Shoreditch as you like. But if the NHS isn’t testing and buying it, we will never become the innovation nation we need to be. Building, financing and growing these little start-ups into serious businesses of scale. The problem of the austerity era was thinking that our problems could be solved by cutting things. Actually, the only way our problems can be solved is by growing things.

Fourth, empowering local leaders to innovate more. Innovation can’t be ordered from on high. It comes from people having the power to make decisions themselves. That’s why we need to embrace bolder economic localism. Let’s remember that our national economic performance is made up of hundreds of local economies, all of which need to be growing faster. Another five years of ever-tighter spending controls from the Treasury risks undermining local growth and innovation.  Instead of delaying essential local infrastructure holding our growth hubs back, why not let them raise infrastructure bonds in the international capital markets and embrace bold ideas like integrated track and train mutuals which invests users money into better services?

Fifth, a new model of Treasury incentives. Too often, Whitehall’s funding orthodoxy rewards failure.  If you deliver more for less in the public sector we give you…less!   And give more to those failing.  If you ran a business like that it would be bust.  And depressing to work in. It’s no wonder that public sector leaders are so dispirited.  Many are leaving.  We need them to stay.  So why don’t we send a signal to encourage them, be bold and embrace a new model of incentives-based funding which rewards successful local service leaders for delivering efficiency and productivity? We need a new approach based on a radical idea: if an area reduces the deficit quicker than Whitehall’s average we should let them keep 50 per cent of the savings to re-invest.  Why not the same on growth? If councils grow their tax base, why not let them keep 50 per cent for local services?

Our choice as a nation is clear. Do we timidly manage our decline? Or do we set out a bold plan a brighter future? At the moment we are treading water and appear to be relying on popular support for Brexit, and the threat of Jeremy Corbyn, to keep us in office.

For a majority of voters, keeping Corbyn out and delivering Brexit are not good enough answers.  We need to show voters that this is the path to something more inspiring.  We need to start setting out a bold vision for Conservatism in the twenty-first century.