Businesses speak up over the UK’s Brexit strategy during EU round-table meeting in Portsmouth

BAR Lord Bridges PIC 2

Left-right: chief executive of the Solent LEP Anne-Marie Mountifield, Lord Bridges, Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones
Left-right: chief executive of the Solent LEP Anne-Marie Mountifield, Lord Bridges, Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones
BAR Lord Bridges PIC 2 Left-right: chief executive of the Solent LEP Anne-Marie Mountifield, Lord Bridges, Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones Left-right: chief executive of the Solent LEP Anne-Marie Mountifield, Lord Bridges, Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones

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BUSINESS leaders in the Portsmouth area have praised one of the ministers in charge of Brexit for listening to their views on the UK’s decision to move away from Europe.

Lord Bridges yesterday chaired an EU round-table debate with firms to pull together their thoughts on Brexit before it is triggered in the coming months.

Speaking following the discussion at Land Rover BAR with firms representing aerospace, defence, manufacturing, aviation, marine and maritime sectors, Lord Bridges said: ‘I have greatly enjoyed my visit to Portsmouth, which is a key hub for a range of important British industries, including the aerospace, defence and maritime sectors.

‘This has been an excellent opportunity to discuss with local businesses how we can work together to achieve the best deal for Britain in the upcoming negotiations.’

Andrew Barnett, chief technology officer at Barnbrook Systems Ltd, in Fareham, said he voted to remain in the EU– but is keen to see businesses benefit ‘long-term’ from Brexit.

He said: ‘Certainly in the short-term, this decision has probably hampered some businesses.

‘But in the long-term, we will get through it. We have had to do it many times before.

‘My reason for wanting to stay was I felt we weren’t in a position as a country to leave.’

But Mr Barnett praised Lord Bridges for ‘engaging’ businesses as part of his tour of the UK to listen to opinion before the government pulls together its EU exit strategy.

The event, supported by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, was attended by more than 20 delegates who had the chance to express their views of the challenges and opportunities businesses are expected to face in the coming years.

Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones arranged the visit.

She said: ‘This has been a great opportunity for businesses to ensure their voice is heard by government and make them aware of not only the challenges they’re expecting, but also the big opportunities that are on the horizon and how we can benefit from trading with the rest of the world.’

‘It’s vitally important that we are in a position where businesses in our area and across the country can have the best opportunity possible to trade with countries around the world.

‘It’s important that the UK sends out a clear message that we are open for business and want to attract business around the globe to be based in the UK.’

Lord Bridges also visited Pall Europe’s HQ, at Harbour Gate Business Park, off Southampton Road, to see how a global exporter is working successfully.