Brexit Negotiations: Ann Francke urges government to learn from London 2012

16 June 2017 -


CMI’s chief executive says the negotiations for Britain leaving the EU should work cross-party and include representatives from business

Matt Scott

CMI chief executive Ann Francke has called for it to be ‘all hands on deck’ when it comes to the Brexit negotiations, telling Radio 4’s Today programme that those in charge of the negotiations should look to the example of London 2012 for inspiration as to how to manage the process.

“The whole Brexit process is an extremely complex one, and it is far too important – you are talking about Britain’s fate for the next 30 to 40 years – to be left in the hands of a few individuals and advisers, no matter how talented they may be,” she said. “The Olympics is an excellent example of real collaboration between government and business across all parties, and it was a stunning result.

“But that took four years of planning. Brexit is a lot more complicated, with a lot more at stake.”

Election result could present opportunities for business and government

Despite creating even more uncertainty, both politically and economically, Francke said that the hung parliament following Theresa May’s snap general election could give businesses an opportunity to get more involved in the political process, including the Brexit negotiations.

“Business has a sustained period of uncertainty, and our members have told us that this election is just going to stoke that uncertainty, and it already has – reports have shown a drop in business confidence since [the result was announced],” she said. “But because of this relative disarray, there is an opportunity for business to get back into much more proactive participation in forming government policies.

“There is a lesson there for government to be a lot more inclusive in forming those policies, rather than excluding business.”

These latest comments follow on from the criticism of the Conservative campaigning during the general election debate, which Francke said “ignored the opinion of large swathes of the electorate” and was in stark contrast to the “clear visibility of leadership” demonstrated by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.

In the immediate aftermath of the election result, Francke told Insights that she felt this should serve as a lesson to managers.

“The two campaigns act as a how to do it and how not to do it,” she said. “It is extraordinary that the how not to do it example comes from the obvious favourites at the start of the election, and this is also a good reminder for managers that, no matter how strong your position may seem, you cannot take anything for granted.

“You cannot be perceived as invisible, distant and arrogant as a leader, and rely on a small team of advisers. You have to seek out broader inclusiveness and broader views.”

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