Should the government prioritise domestic growth over Brexit?

Should the government prioritise domestic growth over the Brexit negotiations?

Yes – Mike Cherry is national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Brexit will no doubt continue to grab headlines as the negotiations progress. But the power to make real change for the UK’s 5.7m small businesses and self-employed, to boost prosperity and productivity, lies at home.

With small business confidence continuing to drop due to rising costs and weakening economic growth, we need to see the government taking back control of the domestic agenda rather than ministerial bandwidth overwhelmed by Brexit. The first item in the in-tray for the UK small business community is immediate proactive action to tackle the poor payments culture that is rampant in the UK.

Next week’s Spring Statement represents a golden opportunity for the government to reaffirm its commitment to ease the tax burden on smaller firms.

Equally, too many small firms are still waiting on delivery of the “emergency” business rates hardship fund launched by the chancellor at his last spring address. This support needs to be prioritised or more small businesses will find themselves closing their doors.

No – Alex Deane is a Conservative commentator.

We judge our domestic growth month to month and quarter to quarter. The Brexit settlement will decide much of our country’s trading future for a generation to come.

The posture we take and the agreement we reach, matter for the far future. They signal the kind of trading we wish to have with the world, and the kind of country we wish to be.

Contrary to the doomsaying of so many observers, our economy has performed tremendously since we voted to leave the EU.

Looking at the array of investment we are attracting, there is no reason to think that things will be otherwise over the next 18 months.

This is not to say that we should neglect our domestic growth. The government is capable of doing more than one thing. But if one is to be prioritised, there is no question that the Brexit settlement – including our right to make trade deals with third nations, as soon as possible, without being stymied by our transitional arrangements – must plainly come first.

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