There is little doubt that we are in a period of some economic uncertainty. Whether you are a supporter or opponent of Brexit, there are big decisions to come about the sort of country the UK wants to be and what its relationships are with the rest of the world.
As a major inward investor in the country, we want to ensure that the UK remains open for business. A healthy and thriving economy is essential for us and for our customers. If the UK is to make the most of post-Brexit opportunities then the telecoms sector, built on the foundations of the masts that we invest in, needs to be a forefront of government thinking.
That is why we were really pleased to be asked to be involved in the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Trade and Investment.
APPGs are informal cross-party groups in the UK Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament to help drive the agenda and overall goals.
This Group was established to research and inform debate over how best to support British exporters of all sizes, and encourage foreign direct investment into the UK which has obviously become even more important since the Brexit decision. It is chaired by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP.
The Group promotes trade and enable links between parliamentarians, industry and government in the UK and abroad and work closely with trade representatives as well as the Department for International Trade and UK Export Finance.
Everyone can see more about the work of the group here.
In particular, we are members of the sector advisory panel on Energy and Infrastructure which specially includes telecoms issues. The Group has 11 sector panels in total. The panels each consists of around 10 members and will meet to discuss all issues around international trade and investment.
The work of the panels will be used to guide the work and activity of the APPG in its engagement with parliamentarians, government officials and Ministers.
In other words, our voice and those of the other panel members, will be conveyed to government so they understand the challenges we face and how these can be best overcome. They will also be in a better position to help pursue and champion new opportunities.
Government is also keen to help smaller companies thrive and are looking to support scale-up businesses cope with the rigours of exporting. It is obvious that they are open to ideas and have a genuine commitment to the challenges facing both investors and exporters.
The APPG will also be responding to government consultations and White Papers, so our work will contribute to a more informed approach. This will ultimately, we believe, lead to better policy outcomes. None of this stops us from undertaking our own direct activity if that is the best way forward.
We really want to make our input and feedback to the group as useful and practical as possible. So if our customers have views then they should let us know. This opportunity is as much for them as it is for us.
We look forward to playing a full and active role in the work of the APPG and are grateful for the opportunity of being involved in helping to influence the government’s approach to Brexit.