Local MP Robin Walker has spoken up for trade and investment with a question to the Prime Minister which highlighted the importance of inward investment and global trade to the British economy on what proved to be a memorable day in Westminster.
On the day of the release of the Chilcot report and nearly two weeks since the EU referendum result, Robin has spent time this week speaking to local employers to ensure that they know Worcester remains open for business from around the world. He has had conversations with major local investors to ensure that they have the information they need from the Government and the confidence to know that businesses will be listened to. Robin also started the week by meeting with the FSB in Westminster in order to make sure the voice of smaller businesses would be listened to.
His question in a packed session of Prime Minister’s Questions was:
“Right from the start this United Kingdom has been an outward looking international trading nation. I am very glad to see the trade minister Lord Price out in Hong Kong today talking up the prospects for investment in the British economy, but what steps can the Prime Minister take to bolster up the resources available to UKTI and the foreign office to make sure we attract as much trade and investment in the wide world as possible?”
The Prime Minister replied:
“My honourable friend makes an important point and a very clear instruction has gone out to all our embassies around the world and to UKTI and ministers are very clear about this. We should be doing all that we can, to engage as hard as we can with other parts of the world to start to think about those trade deals those investment deals and the inward investment we want to see in the UK. Business is very clear to us as well whether they agree or disagree with the decision that the country has made, they know we’ve got to go on and make use of the opportunities that we have.”
Later in the same session Robin joined the debate about EU nationals in the UK to put on record the concerns that have been raised with him by major local employers. The Home Office Minister James Brokenshire MP had said:
“I am confident that we will be able to work to secure and guarantee the legal status of EU nationals living here in conjunction with the rights of British citizens. It is important for the Government to fight for the rights of British citizens as well. I am genuinely surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is questioning that in some way. It is notable that his motion makes no reference to that at all.
“It is important to put on record that those who have been continuously lawfully resident in the UK for five years qualify for permanent residence. It is an important point for those who have raised points about constituents and family members who have been in this country for a long time that those rights already exist, so they should have no fear about that. There is no current requirement for such people to apply for documentation from the Home Office to acquire this status.”
Robin intervened to say:
“I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s efforts to fight for the interests of both UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK. I asked the Prime Minister a question about investment in this country. Two of the largest inward investors in my constituency, Yamazaki Mazak and Bosch, have asked me to push for the strongest possible negotiation on behalf of EU citizens already in this country being able to stay. Many of them, alongside thousands of local people, are their employees in Worcester. I am grateful for the Minister’s assurances, but I urge him to continue to make this the absolutely first task of our negotiations.”
And the Minister replied:
“I can certainly give my hon. Friend precisely that reassurance. The Government fully appreciate the importance of giving certainty to EU citizens when the UK exits from the European Union. Addressing this issue is a priority that we intend to deal with as soon as possible.“
Speaking shortly after the session, Robin said:
“I am absolutely delighted to have had the chance to bring up these vitally important issues and I welcome the Prime Minister’s supportive comments – it is also a question I will be putting to leadership contenders. Inward investment is crucial to the UK’s economy, and Worcester has been hugely successful at attracting investment from China, Japan, the United States as well as our neighbours in Europe. I have been speaking to businesses across Worcester including Worcester Bosch and Mazak about our next steps as we negotiate trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world and to assure them of my continuing support.”
“One of the issues that a number of local firms have raised with me is to seek reassurances on behalf of their employees who are EU citizens living in the UK. I was pleased to be able to do this in the debate straight after PMQs and pressed the case on behalf of major local employers with the relevant Home Office Minister. I am glad that both the Prime Minister and Theresa May have made it clear that securing the rights of UK citizens living in Europe and of EU citizens who already living and working here should be at the top of our list of priorities in the coming negotiations.”
“We have a strong economy and here in Worcestershire we have some fantastic opportunities for business investment. I want to make sure that the voice of employers, large and small continues to be heard as we debate the best way of taking the UK forward as it negotiates to leave the EU. We must not neglect the opportunities in the wider world and I am glad to have done my part in pushing for these. With vital projects such as the Worcester Six tech park in the pipeline I am clear that Worcester is very much open for business.”
Notes to editors
To see Robin’s question to the Prime Minister see:
To see Robin’s question in the debate on EU citizens see:
For details of Lord Price’s trade mission to China see:
For Robin’s previous comments on trade and investment see: