I’m writing to let you know how Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is responding to the General Election and how you can get involved.
We will publish a ‘Manifesto for Business’ very soon setting out our ask of the next government around taxation, skills, infrastructure, energy policy, international trade, immigration and other issues critical to business.
Copies will go to Parliamentary candidates across Cumbria.
We will also stage a ‘Virtual Hustings’ in the format of a live webinar.
Businesses will be able to submit questions by text to be answered by a panel of Cumbrian candidates – one Conservative, one Labour and one Lib Dem.
We see this as a practical way for businesses to engage directly with politicians without having to trudge out to a meeting on a cold winter’s evening.
We’re limiting participation to the parties that already have MPs in Cumbria to keep the session manageable. By restricting the number of participants, we can maximise the number of questions dealt with.
Once the date and timings for the virtual hustings are confirmed, we will publicise how businesses can take part and details will appear on the Chamber’s website.
We also plan to record a series of podcasts with Cumbrian candidates from the three main parties, interrogating them on their policies for business.
These will appear on the Chamber’s podcast feedover the coming weeks.
The timing of this General Election is far from ideal. Many businesses are extremely busy at this time of year and could do without the distraction.
Be assured though that the Chamber will work hard to represent your interests and leave the politicians in no doubt as to what businesses’ priorities are.
Finally, I must touch on Brexit, which is likely to dominate the General Election campaign.
The Chamber has never taken a stance for or against Brexit. By staying neutral, we can act as an honest broker to help businesses navigate whatever form Brexit takes.
In recent weeks we’ve run a major campaign ‘Are you ready for a no-deal Brexit?’ More than 2,000 businesses attended our Brexit workshops, downloaded podcasts and webinars or called our Brexit advisers.
We can say with confidence that many more Cumbrian businesses are now Brexit-ready.
It’s worth reinforcing though that the recent Brexit extension to January 31st doesn’t prevent no deal, it simply defers it.
Do keep checking the Brexit resources on the Chamber website to ensure your business is well prepared.