Procurement · 8 March 2018

Government urged to fix fundamental infrastructure amid Brexit quagmire

Studies have shown deterioration in road networks has limited small business growth

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has urged the government not to get bogged down over Brexit and instead sort out weaknesses in fundamental infrastructure, such as road repairs, railways and housing.

Speaking at today’s BCC Annual Conference, director general Adam Marshall said he wanted to remind government that the biggest challenges and opportunities facing UK business were not related to exiting the EU but basic failings here at home.

He warned the government not to let Brexit overshadow issues such as funding repairs on local roads, improving capacity of railways and airports, building more houses, ridding the UK of mobile phone “not-spots”, stabilising the training and apprenticeship systems, and delivering a clear and easy-to-use immigration system.

He said concentrating on these areas of fundamental infrastructure would boost confidence, improve productivity and create jobs.

“I want to talk about the choices that our leaders must make right here in the UK.  The issues that are currently being overlooked. The practical, pragmatic UK agenda that will unlock investment and a brighter, more prosperous future,” he said.

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“Business knows that success so often depends on getting the basics right first. The same holds true for the UK economy. It’s time for Westminster to join us in focusing on the basics. By addressing the less flashy things that always seem to fall between the cracks. We must equip this country for future success by fixing the fundamentals first.”

“A real hunger for leadership and vision”

He also urged the creation of a “national mission” amongst businesses, government and the public that was not based around Brexit.

“There is a real hunger coming from businesses across the UK for real leadership and vision. The reason is simple, they want something to get behind,” he said.

“There are those who would argue that Brexit is that mission, but they have entirely missed the point. Brexit is a process, not an outcome. It has been allowed, by government and opposition alike, to cloud over the rudderlessness of recent years.

“It is a convenient excuse to plough attention and resources into a process of disconnection, rather than to take the far harder step of re-imagining Britain for the future and then marshalling all available brainpower, management capacity and financial resources into making it happen.”

Marshall also highlighted the importance of the private sector and warned against recent calls “for the wholesale nationalisation of entire swathes of the economy”.

He added: “Our business communities are worried about the rhetorical assault on capitalism and wealth generation emanating from some quarters of Westminster. Those who seek to divide our business communities by pitting the small against the large, or by demonising some sectors while championing others, must be challenged.”

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Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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