Nick Fletcher: End of pandemic could be 'spark which begins a fire' for British business

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The end of the coronavirus pandemic could be “a spark which begins a fire” in British entrepreneurial spirit, an MP has claimed.

Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher said an “exciting future” lay ahead for the UK, as the country’s post-Brexit trade arrangements moved through Parliament in the form of the Trade Bill.

The Trade Bill looks to create a framework for an independent trade policy and a system for embedding new trade agreements into law, and passed its first hurdle in the Commons last week.

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Mr Fletcher said: “In this new chapter that we now embark on, we have the opportunity to choose which countries we have Free Trade Agreements with, which in turn will lead to many new businesses and entrepreneurs emerging.

Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher. Photo: JPI MediaDon Valley MP Nick Fletcher. Photo: JPI Media
Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher. Photo: JPI Media | jpimediaresell

“The new stars of this future business community are not yet known, and due to this pandemic, they may have just missed their GCSEs or A levels exams or be handing in their dissertation.”

While recognising the impact coronavirus is having on the economy, he said: “Yet the end of a pandemic can serve as a spark which can begin a fire. As we know sparks will only

cause fires if heat, fuel and oxygen are also present. If we take this analogy to the business world, I would argue that the changes this pandemic will serve as a spark in the creation of new businesses and increased innovation.”

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But he said this could only happen in certain circumstances, and he added: “We can view the products that the UK can sell as being the fuel. The oxygen as the entrepreneurial spirit, and the heat being the trade deals which will allow British companies to operate globally.”

He also dismissed fears that all post-coronavirus opportunities would be technology-based, and said the issues seen with accessing PPE had proved the case for bringing manufacturing back to Britain,

“During these times, it wouldn’t be surprising if some even asked if we are going to be running global operations from our bedrooms,” he said.

“I don’t think this will be the case, although I am sure flexible working will become more common.

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“I would like to stress that we have already learned one thing, although trading with other countries generates wealth around the world, being able to manufacture goods at home is as equally important.

“The PPE issue alone ought to highlight the necessity of being able to manufacture certain products that a country may need in a crisis.”

He said it was also key not to have a trading deficit, so schools and the health service could receive adequate funding.

He said: “In my view, we will only enable British exports to really take off if we sign Free Trade Agreements, as this will allow countries to buy many of our superior products at lower prices.”

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And he added: “For this new fire to grow, we need to provide the fuel that allows us to create great products and facilitate it with the heat of free trade and finally breathe the oxygen into this, which is the great British entrepreneurial spirit.”