The Chamber was fortunate and grateful to once again have our local MP for Hertford and Stortford, Mark Prisk, speak to our members at our Quarterly Business Lunch. This was our sixth business lunch and we hope members are enjoying these as a regular way of staying up to date with the pressing regional and national matters.
Mark Prisk has been a Member of Parliament since 2001 and has held numerous ministerial briefs as well as being active in the local community. Most recently he has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s Investment Envoy to the Nordic and Baltic nations and Brazil.
Mark felt before looking forward, to discuss what future issues and opportunities lay ahead in 2017, one first had to look back as 2016 had contained some unexpected events.
If you had asked him last year about the possibility of Cameron resigning, Britain voting to leave the European Union and Donald Trump winning the U.S. Elections he would have thought you were mad and that’s without mentioning Ed Balls descending to the Strictly dance floor on a flaming piano.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that pundits and pollsters do not have all of the answers. Politicians need to rethink how they are engaging with the public as an obvious gulf has development between them and disenfranchised, who are now looking to others to give them a voice. Public debate has become ugly signified by the unimaginable dealt of Labour MP Jo Cox.
Looking forward Mark feels 2017 is difficult to predict, but despite challenges (notably what will happen to the pound) there will be opportunities. It is the year of the Rooster which should mean people will be more polite and less stubborn but as a warning individuals need to temper their lusts.
Mark raised 3 Challenges:
- The Economy: inflation will be a concern for the first time in a long while with the added costs this will add to businesses bottom line and supply chains. Profit margins will be tighter. Interest rates may also be heading up, more towards ‘normal rates’, people who have become used to low rates being the new normal could be in a for a shock.
- Brexit: the government will aim to set out its position by February / March 2017 in order to trigger Article 50 but the effects of this will be unclear for some time. As such speculations and ‘what ifs’ will be rife and the situation too uncertain to predict. One certainty is that it will fill the column inches.
But it must be stressed the world has not fallen apart; we must get on with and make it work and have as our priority getting the best deal we can.
- Donald Trump: which Trump will we get? The Campaigner with his rhetoric or the Professional with his more reasoned and business mind. Nobody really knows what the slogans ‘make America great again’ and ‘putting America first’ actually mean. If the latter means being more forceful, for example stopping the dumping of cheap produce into local markets and securing better trade deals then this may not be all bad. Mark is an optimist.
Now for the good news:
- Whilst there will be uncertainties and changes this can create opportunities. It is for business to see how they can adapt, develop and take advantage of these.
- We are fortunate to be in a great location in the middle of the M11 corridor, with Cambridge, Stansted Airport and business such as Glaxo all located in our region. The Pharmaceutical industry especially is pivotal to the region as a whole. This provides us all with a sound economic base.
- 2017 will be a good year to export as the markets will be more competitive due to in currency. We as a region are greatly placed to take advantage of this with Stansted Airport on our doorstep, an educated workforce and the proximity to Cambridge. We have a great ‘brand’.
So although there are some challenges, Mark feels we are also presented with the same number of opportunities and he is more than happy for individuals or business to contact him for help and support.