Brexit 'an excuse to avert gaze from rudderlessness of UK politics,' business leaders to warn in key speech

Fiona Simpson
Director general of the British Chambers of Commerce Adam Marshall who is due to give a speech later: PA

Brexit is being used as an excuse not to tackle major domestic issues that would help fuel growth, business leaders will warn.

Britain's exit from the European Union has been allowed to "cloud over the rudderlessness" of recent years, Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, will say.

The Government must focus on fixing the basics , including improving roads, railways and airports, boosting housing supply and simplifying the immigration system, he will tell the BCC annual conference.

Mr Marshall will say: "Business know that success so often depends on getting the basics right first. The same holds true for the UK economy.

"It's time for Westminster to join us in focusing on the basics. By addressing the less flashy things that always seem to fall between the cracks.

Theresa May is to hear Brexit has been

"We must equip this country for future success - by fixing the fundamentals first.

"Successive governments have acknowledged that more could be done to get the basics right for business. Indeed, the current Government's developing industrial strategy is up-front about many of these challenges.

"Yet the leadership and the infrastructure simply aren't there to make change happen."

Mr Marshall will say businesses want a radical vision they can get behind.

Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to be criticised in the speech in a thinly-veiled swipe (PA)

"There is a real hunger coming from businesses across the UK for real leadership and vision. Businesses want to see a radical, optimistic vision for the future of the UK," he will say.

"The reason is simple: they want something to get behind. A national sense of mission that unites the efforts of business, government and the public at large with a real sense of purpose.

"There are those who would argue that Brexit is that mission, but they have entirely missed the point.

"Brexit is a process, not an outcome. It has been allowed, by government and opposition alike, to cloud over the rudderlessness of recent years; a convenient excuse to plough attention and resources into a process of disconnection, rather than to take the far harder step of re-imagining Britain for the future and then marshalling all available brainpower, management capacity and financial resources into making it happen."

In a thinly-veiled swipe at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Marshall will attack politicians who promote a " superficially seductive" argument for nationalisation.

He will say: "Our business communities are worried about the rhetorical assault on capitalism and wealth generation emanating from some quarters of Westminster.

"Those who seek to divide our business communities by pitting the small against the large, or by demonising some sectors while championing others, must be challenged. Those who suggest that the solution to poor procurement and questionable outsourcing decisions by government is the wholesale nationalisation of entire swathes of the economy must also be challenged.

"Facing down the superficially seductive argument for nationalisation won't be easy - but it's vital to the future success of communities and prosperity all across the UK."

A Government spokesman said: "The government's commitment to boosting the productivity and earning power of people and places across the UK remains steadfast.

"Through our industrial strategy, we are building a Britain fit for the future, with a plan to help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.

"We have already committed to raising investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, ensuring our world-class research and innovation base continues to thrive, have invested in skills such as maths, digital and technical education to generate highly skilled jobs and have launched the £1.7 billion transforming cities fund, which will address weaknesses in city transport systems while improving connectivity, reducing congestion and introducing new mobility services and technology."

Reporting by PA

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