‘Our voices must be heard’: Lincolnshire business leaders braced for early general election

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Business leaders and investors in Lincolnshire are preparing for the impact and opportunities a new government will bring after MPs approved Theresa May’s plan for a snap general election.

The election will take place on June 8 after 522 MPs voted in favour of the shock proposal, against 13 who voted against an early election on Wednesday, April 19.

With the country’s exit from the European Union sitting heavy on the minds of the business community, Lincolnshire leaders are appealing to candidates to consider the future of the county’s figurehead industries and possible skills shortages.

Lincolnshire farmers are calling for future MPs to recognise the contribution agriculture makes to the local economy and ensure backing for the industry amongst priorities.

NFU county chairman Mark Leggott, who farms near Coningsby, said: “With farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members will want to understand how each of the political parties plans to support profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future.

“The right post-Brexit trade deal is absolutely critical but equally well so is a new wider policy framework that better delivers for farming and the nation.

“For Lincolnshire farmers, growers and the wider food industry, which employs over 50,000 people and generates a GVA (Gross Value Added) of over £2.5 billion for the county’s economy, our industry and everyone involved in it, needs stability and certainty.

“Throughout the next seven weeks the NFU will ensure that all parties fully understand and engage with the food and farming community on the issues facing the sector both now and post-Brexit.

“British farms currently grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth £108 billion and moreover the public wants to continue to buy British food.

“For that to happen it’s vital that candidates recognise the enormous contribution that agriculture makes – for every £1 invested, farming delivers £7.40 back to this country – and that they say they will back British farming, now and for a profitable and sustainable future for our industry.”

Institute of Directors’ General Director, and former CEO of Lincolnshire-based Clugston Construction, Stephen Martin said businesses must be braced for a battering from the changing winds of British politics.

He argued local leaders, economists and investors need to embrace the election as a chance to debate what Brexit will mean for companies’ futures and potentially threatening skills gaps.

In response to the vote, he said: “Businesses are having to get used to being buffeted by the changing winds of politics at the moment, and will just have to endure yet another campaign.

“This must be used as a chance to properly debate what leaving the EU means for the long-term future of the UK, including how we continue to bring in the skills employers need.

“While Brexit will inevitably dominate the campaign, there are also much wider questions that need to be addressed on the changing nature of business and work, automation and our ageing society.

“These can’t be ignored in the run up to June 8, and the business voice must be heard in this crucial discussion.”