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Tory leader rejects ‘dire warnings’ and says Brexit won’t harm Birmingham businesses

Tory leader rejects ‘dire warnings’ and says Brexit won’t harm Birmingham businesses

🕔28.Jun 2016

Brexit will make no difference to Birmingham’s booming economy, the leader of the city council’s Conservative group has insisted.

Robert Alden, who voted in last week’s referendum to leave the EU, said he rejected “dire warnings” about businesses being hit by Brexit and insisted the decision to get out of Europe would not hit jobs in Birmingham.

Cllr Alden’s stance puts him at odds with most of the Government, many business leaders and Labour city council leader John Clancy, who has warned that foreign investors are already thinking twice about coming to Birmingham because of uncertainty over the EU exit negotiations.

On the morning after the referendum Cllr Clancy held urgent discussions with council chef executive Mark Rogers and senior officers to draw up a strategy to persuade the rest of the world that Birmingham remains open for business.

He has established a Brexit working party to monitor exit negotiations and said the city would not be “stunned into inactivity”.

The referendum saw Birmingham split over EU membership, with 223,451 voting to remain and 227,251 to leave, a narrow victory for the leave camp.

Cllr Alden said he had not campaigned “for one side or the other” during the referendum campaign, but did make a personal decision to vote to leave.

Asked what he made of business sector concern about Brexit, Cllr Alden said:

It is quite false to say the economy will all fall apart.

The leader of the council issues dire warnings on a regular basis and nothing happens.

It’s clear Birmingham should be working with the Government to make sure the response to the country’s issues are listened to and to make sure the Birmingham economy keeps growing.

There are still many good reasons for companies to come to Birmingham. It’s got a brilliant international airport, we have a balance of trade surplus with China and out international links will continue to ensure the Birmingham economy grows whether or not we are in the European Union.

David Cameron was in Brussels today to discuss the referendum result with European leaders.

There is still no sign of the UK triggering the EU’s exit process, which sets out a two year deadline to conclude negotiations on new trading arrangements.

The pound and European shares were up strongly today for the first time since the referendum off the back of market anticipation that Governments and banks are taking steps to limit any economic fallout from Brexit. The Bank of England today injected £3.1 billion into UK banks following a special auction for six-month finance.

Birmingham business leaders have given a mixed reaction to the referendum result.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said there would be “many in the business community feeling uncertain and unsettled”.

He added:

There will in the short- to mid-term at least be consequences for our economy as investors look to our political leadership for clarity on their vision for a post-Brexit UK and how it will relate to the EU, single market and trading partners across the world.

I would ask businesses to be positive and avoid knee-jerk reactions. We have several years of negotiations ahead before this vote becomes a reality and there is still plenty of business to be done.

We urge the Government to step up, put political and personal differences aside and act in the best interests of our nation. We need our leaders to quickly, effectively and with one voice deliver a credible plan for a United Kingdom in a new, mid- and post-Brexit world.

Ernst Young’s senior Midlands partner Sara Fowler called for businesses  to work with the Government to continue attracting key foreign investment to the region in the aftermath of the EU poll.

Ms Fowler said:

We are now entering unchartered territory after the majority of UK voters chose to leave the European Union (EU). It’s the first time a member state has left the union, and this means that the consequences are almost impossible to predict.

2015 was also a record year for the Midlands, with 46 per cent growth in the number of projects. Businesses will need to work alongside the Government to ensure that this remains the case and to give the UK every opportunity to prosper in the future.

Sarah Phillips, partner at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, warned that Brexit would have a major impact on job security in the financial services sector.

Brexit will potentially have a big impact on the people who work in the UK’s financial services industries. Many banks, insurers and fund managers who have large businesses in continental Europe could consider relocating to Paris or Frankfurt and senior staff will either lose their roles or have to move to another country.

Some global investment banks, such as JPMorgan, have said that Brexit would lead to a significant loss of jobs in the UK.

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