Business secretary Greg Clark told business leaders at the annual Institute of Directors convention in London on Tuesday that successful industrial strategies are “rooted in the local” and recognise that every region is different.
Clark also pledged to discuss the UK’s industrial strategy with local authorities and business leaders, the Guardian reported.
IoD director general Simon Walker opened the annual convention at the Royal Albert Hall with a speech calling for Britain to promote free trade and deregulation in a post-Brexit world.
“To me the choices are clear,” he said. “Is a post-Brexit United Kingdom going to revert to insularity and protectionism, slashing immigration, subsidising failing industries and curbing foreigners investing in British businesses? That was Britain in the sixties and seventies.
“Or will we choose a different future, equally rooted in (historic) tradition, and revived in the eighties: an open economy based on free trade and deregulation, where competition drives public policy, and aspiration replaces entitlement.”
Walker also warned against the dangers of an ‘interventionist government’ like the one promised by shadow chancellor, John McDonnell:
“Prosperity does not come from the state. Ministers can create the right environment for growth, but it is wholly wrong to think they can manage and dictate every aspect of the economy without it killing innovation and competition.”
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was another speaker and she took the opportunity to argue passionately against a ‘hard Brexit’.
Sturgeon said it was important to take the course of action that will do the least damage and “to exert as much influence as possible on the UK government although it would be helpful to know more about the UK government’s current thinking.”
The First Minister added: “We find ourselves in a situation not of our making but will deal with as constructively and positively as possible. A referendum on Scottish independence must remain an option but that’s not my starting point — my starting point is to do everything I can to preserve the benefits of EU membership. That won’t be straightforward but nothing about Brexit is straightforward. Single market membership seems to me to be the least damaging outcome for businesses across the UK.”