Kim Conchie

Cornwall Chamber chief executive Kim Conchie has written an open letter to Cornwall’s six MPs urging them to back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.

Conchie says businesses have had enough uncertainty and, albeit begrudgingly, want to just “get on with it”.

The EU referendum result has shaken the business world, creating uncertainty and numerous theories about what will happen next.

After conducting anecdotal research, the chamber has sent an open letter to Cornwall’s MPs urging them to “get on and implement the deal Theresa May and the team have negotiated”.

The letter in full is replicated below:

Dear Members of Parliament,

Whilst Cornwall is experiencing a skills shortage and uncertainty around its post-EU funding, Chamber of Commerce has listened to its membership to reflect the voice of business regarding the Brexit deal. Businesses have needed clarity for some time and I write to you to speak on behalf of business.

In response to Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal, our membership says a begrudging ‘get on with it’. We all knew leaving the EU Club was not going to be easy. Our referendum result was not a popular decision in Europe. For people to suggest now that our civil servants and politicians who have been working on this for months have missed something that the EU negotiators would have let slip through is ridiculous. Let’s get on and implement the deal Theresa May and the team have negotiated. Business needs clarity; and this deal at last provides a way ahead.

Cornwall Chamber of Commerce’s community of businesses still need clarity and precision on the terms of trade they will face with the EU and are prepared to get on with it.

With all best wishes for this new phase,

Kim Conchie,

CEO Cornwall Chamber of Commerce

15 COMMENTS

  1. There are some businesses in Cornwall which go on about uncertainty so they appear to feel the need to get a deal almost at any cost. Uncertainty is there all the time in both personal and business lives and Brexit is just another factor, if it wasn’t that then something else would soon take it’s place. The people of Cornwall voted by a majority to leave and this would include businesses and people of all ages and backgrounds just as in the Remain camp.
    The ship has sailed on any previous benefit of being a member and a request to cancel Brexit will likely create an even worse deal. During the referendum campaign the EU commission stated that regional figures had been revised and Cornwall would not qualify to the tune of past funding.
    The “Deal” on the table feels like the worst of all worlds for the people of the UK with even more uncertainty than a straight no deal. With a no deal we would know exactly where we stood, pain for a bit while businesses in Europe give the EU a hard time to get their UK market back on board. Everyday businesses loose a big customer and get on with it. Most of the corporate failures and stragglers in the news currently have their own issues which they are hiding behind Brexit – “a good time to release bad news”. As most of Cornish business in SME and predominantly Micro they tend to be far more resilient and should ignore the whinging from the national Corporates who have their own agendas.

    Raymond Hammond – out of interest where did you obtain the data on voting by constituency showing Truro and Falmouth vote to remain as the Electoral Commission only provide the figure for Cornwall as a whole?

    • I meet very many businesses across Cornwall and beyond. At each of the business events we run, we ask each business attending what major issues they face, it is rare that Brexit is flagged up as a major obstacle. That is not to say it is not a concern, but there is such a lack of clarity about what Brexit means to them, that they have to get on with dealing with the known issues.

      There are strong views on both sides of the argument, but whether I am talking to a remainer or a brexitor neither camp seems to have anything good to say about the “May Deal”. Remainers would prefer to remain rather than take the “May Deal” and Brexitors would prefer a no deal and start negotiating for our future from there. One thing is certain, business carries on in spite of, not because of politicians.

  2. Kim, I think your attempt to cast the Cornish business community as begrudging voice for Brexit impatience misleads the very members of parliament who will have to vote on the way forward.

    As a fairly recent high-tech and fast growing business arriving in Cornwall I feel misrepresented by the statement in your open letter. I for one accept the assessment from every credible UK financial authority that all forms of Brexit will make us poorer, something I believe we will experience with much greater impact in Cornwall than other parts of the UK.

    It is true that Business needs clarity. But in my mind, far more significant is the clarity needed by everyone living here about the implications of leaving the European Union. The mentality of ‘getting on with it’ forsakes that clarity for a vague and dare I say colonial-romantic spirit of “it’ll be all right on the night”.

    Finally, I think it’s important to remember that Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal contains neither certainty nor clarity about our future trading relationship. That is all yet to come. And if the negotiation skills of the past two years are anything to go by, I fear for the worst.

    • Hi Marcus

      Your points are very well made. The unprecedented vote yesterday saying that the government had brought the House of Commons into disrepute, destroys any confidence I had in the government or any of the negotiators. Although there would be a difficult time to begin with, this leads me to believe that the only way to follow the will of the people, will be for us to leave on WTO rules and negotiate from there.

      Switzerland is living proof that if you are the best you can be, that life outside the EU can be a very prosperous place to be.

      • Thanks Kevin. As you can imagine I agree with your premise, but disagree with the conclusion. The UK now exists inside a highly integrated economic area, which benefits long supply chains and complex production processes like manufacturing in the car, aviation and fledgling space industries. Any sudden tariff disruption to those sectors, like crashing out in four months would do, will be a kiss of death and a clear ‘go elsewhere’ sign for foreign investment.
        As every credible UK financial authority made clear: All forms of Brexit will make us poorer (at least for the next 10 years). The honest conversation to have is: Are we happy to be poorer in exchange for the kind of complete autonomy and lack of international influence that Switzerland has. My humble guess would be: probably not.

        • Hi Marcus

          Thanks for your reply. I would not argue with anything you say as indeed forecasters are saying this, but all of them were wrong about the effects of a brexit vote in the first place.

          Business survives and thrives in spite of not because of politicians. I made the reference to Swizerland as they export five times per capita what we do as a nation to the EU. They have just been concentrating on being the best they can so that demand and a will to trade has overcome the perceived trade barriers. This gives me optimism about a very uncertain future.

          Your premise I think is leaning towards remaining within the EU against the result of the referendum. I don’t see how that would be tenable for those who voted to leave, or for those who voted remain, but accept the democratic decision.

          There are those that are trying to push for a “Peoples Vote” but on what?

          As you rightly said the “May Deal” “contains neither certainty or clarity about our future trading relationship”. So would it have to be Brexit WTO Rules or Remain?

          It is pretty clear to me, that negotiating is leading no-where. This lady seems to have put her finger on why that is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNh3312dTtA

          For me in business, I like to convey the message to my customers that here are the benefits of working with me and this is what you lose if we stop working together. But every customer can vote with their feet and if they do, I take the view it is my fault. If you are for a confederation of independent states, rather than a federal europe, then this is the way europe needs to be reformed. If it were, I expect we would vote to rejoin.

          Kevin

  3. I think a people’s vote is the way most individuals want to go but Kim is representative of what is best for the business community. An imperfect deal is better than no deal

  4. Well said Kim. Don’t forget that apart from Truro & Falmouth all other constituencies in Cornwall voted by a majority to leave. I was very disappointed to hear that one MP in Cornwall supported a new leader election at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations. Shame on this person after all the hard work Theresa May has done.

  5. Wow – were I to say such a thing supposedly representing the interests of my members I would cause a huge rift. I know that the thousands of members we have, would take the view “Not in my name”. I wonder what this anecdotal research consisted of, when Cornwall Chamber has such a small membership in the first place. I don’t believe Kim, has the right to make this statement on behalf of the business community in Cornwall. From my meetings with our members, I know that there are very many who believe that the deal proposed by Mrs May is worse than no deal, or remaining. They believe from both sides that the negotiation and deal is botched.

    • I completely agree with you. Also if he had the interests of the businesses he’s so connected with then he’d at least take the opportunity to push for a people’s vote, not a sodding ‘push the red button and get it on with’ approach.

    • I thoroughly agree with you Kevin; this is a very reckless thing to do based only on “anecdotal research”. A proper poll of Chamber members was required here at the very least. I for one much prefer the option of a people’s vote with option to Remain.

      • This was going to be a car crash for us, whichever way we voted, because there was no clear guide to what we were voting on. Then when the vote was for Brexit, we were advised that negotiations would be conducted on the basis of no deal is better than a bad deal. Now we have remainers saying they want a peoples vote with remain a possibility because they do not like the “May Deal” and brexitors saying the “May Deal” is worse than the no deal situation. This speech outlines for me how the EU have conducted themselves to create the “May Deal” and also indicates what should be done to reform the EU, if we end up staying https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNh3312dTtA

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