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20/10/2017

R3 at Labour Party Conference 2017

A wave of sunshine hit Brighton last month as Labour’s annual conference was underway, reflecting the jubilant mood of the party in the wake of June’s General Election, and creating a noticeable contrast from the atmosphere of the previous year.
 
However, with Conference coinciding with the ten year anniversary of the financial crisis, and at a time when widespread uncertainty over the future impact of Brexit on businesses and trade is matched by domestic concerns over rising personal debt, squeezed real wage growth and increasing inflation, the tone of discussion at the majority of events was significantly less celebratory than the overall mood, and instead focussed on the long road ahead.
 
Unsurprisingly, Brexit was the key topic of discussion among the fringe programme, despite some controversy in the run-up to Conference over an apparent lack of debate scheduled on the issue. Across multiple events, Labour representatives seemed quick to stress the importance of avoiding a ‘bonfire of regulations’ in our exit from the EU – a perspective shared by politicians and business leaders alike. Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, warned of the risks of turning the UK into a ‘low tax, low regulation’ economy, driven purely by a desire to entice international investment, post-Brexit.
 
Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, echoed McDonnell’s concerns with warnings on the dangers of reverting to WTO tariffs, and the impact this would have on both goods and services industries across the UK, stating unequivocally that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ would be the worst possible outcome for the country. He went on to highlight the importance of being able to secure transitional arrangements, which maintain the current benefits of the Single Market and Customs Union, for providing much needed stability to the economic outlook, and clarity to businesses.
 
Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Reynolds, was also vocal in presenting Labour’s vision of the post-Brexit landscape. He argued that maintaining regulatory equivalence with the EU would be vital to preserving the UK’s goods and services industries and should be seen as a key Brexit benchmark. He went on to emphasise the need for a quick transitional period, providing the certainty necessary for success while also avoiding leaving businesses in limbo.
 
For R3 and the insolvency and restructuring profession, it is encouraging to see such a strong emphasis being placed on the need for economic stability, and that mutual recognition with the EU is a key principle within Labour’s vision of post-Brexit Britain. For the significant proportion of our membership who are involved in cross-border EU insolvency work, preserving the benefits of our current relationship with the EU through mutual recognition of insolvency proceedings will be particularly welcome, and would help to support jobs, growth, inward investment and productivity, while also protecting the UK’s reputation as a world class hub for international restructuring and insolvency work. It is also encouraging to see that Labour’s policy on insolvency closely matches that of the Government, as outlined within their position paper on cross-border civil judicial cooperation.
 
On the whole, it seemed at this year’s conference that businesses are increasingly eager to engage with Labour and it appears that Labour are keen to listen, and are open to a collaborative approach, going forward.
 
Given the multitude of challenges on the horizon, maintaining a close relationship between businesses and Westminster will be essential in ensuring that companies and individuals are best placed to safeguard their survival, should any unexpected financial shocks come their way.

Notes to editors:

  • R3 is the trade body for Insolvency Professionals and represents the UK’s Insolvency Practitioners.

  • R3 comments on a wide variety of personal and corporate insolvency issues. Contact the press office, or see www.r3.org.uk for further information.

  • R3 promotes best practice for professionals working with financially troubled individuals and businesses; all R3 members are regulated by recognised professional bodies
     
  • R3 stands for 'Rescue, Recovery, and Renewal' and is also known as the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.