Once again, we enjoyed a good turnout for our new year’s lunch on Friday and for the 22nd year, we had the pleasure of listening to Sir Graham Brady MP speak. As many of you will be aware it has not been a quiet time for him and we appreciated that he was able to still give up his time to speak with the local businesses of Altrincham and Sale at our annual lunch.
Brady started by thanking our CEO Sue Aldridge, our outgoing president Mike Fox and Mayor of Trafford Tom Ross. He advised us that both he and Tom attended the local primary school Heyes Lane in Timperley before going on to study at Altrincham boys.
He quipped how he felt that after 22 years, we may be getting bored of hearing him speak, so had therefore upped his profile in the days prior to the lunch with the #BradyAmendment!
He did not shy away from the topic hot on everyone’s lips currently and discussed the situation we currently find ourselves in with the ongoing theatrics of “Brexit” and how we are stuck between the UK wanting to change the amendment and the EU saying they don’t need to change anything.
He stated it is the “messiest” time in politics that he can remember with divisions in both of the two main parties, with conservatives divided over EU and labour divided over both their leader and the EU.
He said that the most recent developments last week have now given the Prime Minister amendments that both parties have agreed on which she can take back to the EU.
Brady shared with us how the morning of the confidence vote he had the media camped outside his front door and again outside his surgery wanting to know how many letters he had received.
He finished by saying that the one thing people dislike more than change is uncertainty and the biggest danger at the moment is to talk ourselves into a spiral of despair by saying everything is going wrong.
He went on to say that overall the UK is doing well with the lowest unemployment rate with new businesses being created. The economy is growing in the UK whilst both Germany and Italy are tipping into a recession.
Sir Brady then opened the floor to questions which covered in brief:
The effects Brexit will have on trade, which he answered by saying how overall the EU membership has been over played. With UK exports to non-EU countries being twice that to those in the single market.
He carried on by saying; “It is complete nonsense to say that we won’t be able to carry on exporting to the single market with the minimal amount of difficulty. The overall effect is less than people think and there is a very strong incentive for both sides to reach a free trade agreement.”
He discussed how difficult it is to get a majority in parliament at the moment. But that the government is aware of the frustrations of the public and business owners. He said that the majority of the UK government want to leave with an agreement in place rather than carry on the uncertainty for the another 9 months, allowing us to move forward and focus on other matters.
He quickly swerved the question of whether he would consider putting himself forward to be the next leader of the conservatives by saying how much he admires Theresa Mays character, saying that she is in it for the right reasons for duty and how she keeps stepping back up every time she is knocked down.
He also discussed how British money is going full circle via the EU to come back to give UK businesses grants in answer to whether or not businesses will still continue to receive grants as they currently do from the EU. He said that right now the single most important thing, is for the government to agree the departure arrangements with an agreed withdrawal to give continuity and certainty. To stop the media pouring on the doom gloom, which will allow everyone to move forward.
Whereas he said that the key focus for EU has been to either make it not happen or make it look as difficult as possible to prevent others doing the same.
The lunch was closed by our CEO Sue Aldridge who thanked Sir Graham Brady MP and introduced the Chambers new Chair Scott McDonald from the Cresta Court hotel.