Public affairs boss tells John McDonnell: business needs clarity from Labour
The shadow chancellor appeared at the 'Small Business Question Time' event at Labour conference.
John McDonnell has been urged to help out public affairs firms and other small businesses by providing more clarity around Labour's approach to Brexit.
The shadow chancellor was questioned by Newington Communications chief executive Mark Glover at a 'Small Business Question Time' event at Labour conference. The event was hosted by SME4Labour and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, with commentator and former Labour adviser Ayesha Hazarika in the chair.
Glover asked McDonnell how Labour would help small business to deal with Brexit. He then told the shadow chancellor: “Business needs clarity to do business. We’ve got very little clarity to do with Brexit anyway so the more we can clear up the ambiguity and the more we can give clear policies of what Labour’s going to do if elected with regard to Brexit, the better it will be.”
McDonnell had answered the question by stressing Labour's support for the single market and suggesting that the party's position on a People's Vote was still hanging in the balance.
He said: “The best thing that could happen is an agreement which maintains the existence of the customs union in some form and we get the relationship with the single market. Will the government deliver that? No they won’t. Because it’s a god-awful mess we’re going into.”
He added: “You’ve seen in the debate today our position, which was if we can’t get a general election we’ll go for a People’s Vote of some sort. Will that be on the deal or will it be [on] Remain, all the options are still on the table. It’s a god-awful mess. It really is. And you get to the point in the House of Commons where you virtually despair.”
McDonnell went on to insist that his negotiating skills were superior to that of the prime minister and her team. He said: “If we were there now we would have been negotiating for 18 months on the custom union, access to the single market. I think the nature of the negotiations would have been transformed overnight. You don’t negotiate by banging the table and threatening to walk out, you negotiate on a basis on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Having expressed his exasperation with the prime minister’s approach to Brexit, McDonnell concluded by telling Glover: “I’m sorry that’s a message of despair but I’m so bloody angry about it.”
Glover, a former APPC chair, had started his question by plugging the fact that Newington Communications is currently Southwark’s SME business of the year.