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R3 at Conservative Party Conference 2017

It seems that a common theme for R3 Thinks posts on the party conference season each year is the unprecedented amount of political change that has happened in the twelve months since the last conference season. As the Conservative Party gathered in Manchester for its 2017 conference, it was clear that this year was no different.
Last year’s conference was the first following the outcome of the EU referendum and was also Theresa May’s first as Prime Minister. After the shock result from the surprise June general election, it could very well have been her last. Accordingly, the ‘feel’ at this year’s conference was somewhat flat – neither jubilant nor mournful. However, what the conference lacked in atmosphere, it made up for with plenty of discussion and debate about the future of the economy post-Brexit, particularly in relation to financial and professional services. For R3, it was fantastic to hear the Treasury City Minister, Stephen Barclay MP, refer to the strength of the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework more than once during conference.
It was particularly interesting for R3 to see how much the debate on Brexit has moved on in recent months, with representatives from the major financial trade bodies noting the need for an announcement by the end of the year on a transition period – before financial institutions and businesses begin to put in place their contingency plans which could see all or some of their functions moved to the continent. The Chancellor acknowledged that a transition is a “wasting asset” for the UK, and the Government is very much aware of the need to secure an agreement on this as soon as possible.
It wasn’t all one way traffic, however, with the Chancellor telling a fringe event that he is looking for a very positive business reaction to confirmation of a transitional deal, in respect of “un-deferring” investment decisions, something he called a “transition dividend”.
One of the key themes throughout the conference was the need for the Conservative Party to once again make the case for the market economy, particularly for a new generation of voters attracted by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and for whom comparisons to the economic difficulties of the 1970s mean very little. The Chancellor also suggested that while businesses shouldn’t express a preference for a political party, they too should get more involved in promoting free markets as the best economic system for Britain. The fact that the Chancellor felt it necessary to make this request underlines just how much British politics has changed in a relatively short space of time.
It is far from clear that this change has yet to come to a halt, with a huge range of economic and political challenges facing the Government over the coming years: negotiating a successful Brexit deal, maintaining control over the public finances and dealing with rising levels of personal debt - to name just a few.

For R3, completing the reforms to the UK’s corporate insolvency framework (see our R3 Thinks post here for more information), along with a positive Brexit deal in respect of insolvency (which preserves the benefits of the European Insolvency Regulation and Recast Brussels Regulation - see our latest comments here), would ensure that the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework continues to help make the UK an attractive place to do business for both domestic and international businesses and investors in a period, as we have seen, of considerable uncertainty. 

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 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.