Over the last couple of days businesses have begun to receive Partnership Packs from the Government which on the face of it appears to be a very positive approach. After all people involved in businesses understand in a rather specific and formal sense what a partnership is supposed to be. According to the legal structures that businesses work under and which Governments have created a partnership means that the partners, in this case the Government and the businesses they have written to, are jointly and severally liable for the actions that the partnership undertakes. This means that if one partner makes a bad decision, the other partners have to take responsibility for all the consequences, so getting into partnerships is not something that is treated lightly. Equally for one partner to do well, means that the other partners will also do well. Because of this sense of liability and shared benefits, it means that the partners need to ensure that they will work together in a manner that ensures that no one will make decisions without consulting with their other partners. So before entering into a partnership the potential partners need to ensure that they trust one another on a level that goes far beyond one single transaction every five years on one side and monthly and quarterly and annual transactions on the other side. So the receiving of these packs which are presumably intended as a suggested way forward, it implies that the Government have realised that their approach in the past has been far from adequate as they are the people who simply invite residents to vote for them once every five years, and then demand that businesses pay taxes and provide them with all sorts of information and support throughout the next half a decade.
The Partnership Packs that have started to arrive are asking businesses to begin to prepare for a No Deal Brexit. Before the packs get fully scrutinised and their To Do List gets adopted, the proposed partnership demands that both parties take part in a discussion so that the word partnership can either be legitimised or redacted. Most conventional businesses that trade with European companies don’t want there to be a no deal Brexit, although parts of the investment industry that trade on the risks and rewards of such uncertainty are more than happy for such questions to be raised. It is certainly the case that some parts of the Conservative Party have strong connections with this second group of people and indeed some of them actually work for such organisations. So if the Partnership Packs are to be treated seriously, it is vital that every business which is sent one is contacted by their MP with an invitation to discuss what sort of post 2016 referendum arrangement the businesses would wish to see. Clearly such invitations would not amount to a vote in any sense, but if the Government wishes to claim to be in a partnership with businesses, they need to go further than simply setting out the way in which they intend things to be and expect the businesses to warm to this approach. I do know of some businesses and many people who claim the EU is a dogmatic rule setter and fails to respond to the needs of the residents or businesses that are impacted. Assuming we do depart from the EU, the same sort of rules will need to be set by our Government without having the prospect of blaming the EU (they may turn the WTO into the new scapegoat) and so the sooner a meaningful sort of connection is made between MPs and businesses the better. Because this partnership is being proposed between the Government and all businesses, clearly in constituencies that have Labour, Lib Dem or Green MPs (along with other parties in Scotland, Wales and NI) the Government will need to carry out a different approach with local businesses so that they avoid treating these businesses as faux partners. Let us hope they act quickly to carry out this response as there are not many days left before the departure date!
On a separate matter, tonight will be a time for many people to enjoy time with their families or friends, Christmas Eve is a special time for many people. However the hard work carried out by so many people on our behalf means that for some people, this evening is no different to any other day of the year. I am very grateful for their hard work on our behalf and wish them a good Christmas particularly if they are not able to relax today and tomorrow!