Brexit’s opportunities as well challenges must be addressed to encourage the UK’s “entrepreneurial spirit”, according to Theresa May.
The Prime Minister invited small and medium-sized business representatives to 10 Downing Street to hear what they want from the negotiations so they can take advantage of the UK leaving the European Union.
Opening the round-table meeting, Mrs May stressed the “significant role” SMEs play in the economy and the need for them to help the country be “expansive and outward-looking”.
Mrs May is expected to ask for their views on how the Government can help them seize on any potential new opportunities offered by Brexit, particularly on exports.
The PM has created two new Cabinet posts with the appointment of Brexit Secretary David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox in an effort to develop and lead a strategy for leaving the EU.
She was joined by Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark for the meeting.
Mrs May told the SME representatives: “It’s really important for us to hear your voice and be able to talk to you about what you see as the issues that need to be addressed but crucially where you see the opportunities.
“Because I think, from my point of view, looking at the challenges that lie ahead, it is about actually coming out of this more successful as the UK, recognising the opportunities.
“I want us to be an expansive and outward-looking country that’s going to be encouraging a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit and small businesses represent that par excellence.
“That’s what we want to encourage and want to see so I’m very pleased to see so many of you here this morning.”
The Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, EEF, the Institute of Family Business, Small Business Saturday, Local Enterprise Partnership Network, the Association of
Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and individual small business representatives were among those invited.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mrs May said: “Britain’s 5.4 million small and medium-sized businesses provide people with jobs, put food on families’ tables and underpin the strength of our economy.
“They are a fundamental part of my vision of building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
“I also want those firms, across all the sectors of our economy, to be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Brexit, such as exporting to new destinations.”
The event comes after the first meeting of the new Cabinet committee on the economy and industrial strategy.