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Statement on the Referendum on Membership of the European Union

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From the Chair of BPS Birmingham, Ahmed Farooq


Many colleagues in the business, professional and financial services sector will have either stayed up through the night or woken in the early hours to see news of the referendum result. In common with colleagues across the sector, I am absorbing the decision taken by the electorate.


It is worth noting that not only has Britain voted for Brexit, but the majority of those going to the polls in Birmingham and across the West Midlands backed the Leave option.


It is time to remain calm and work through the next steps, both in terms of the political impact as well as the economy. Political leaders – as well as all of us in business – now need to bring the country together and shape the future direction of travel.


The Governor of the Bank of England has made a clear statement, calling up the contingency plans it put in place to maintain the stability of the economy and give confidence to the markets. Stock, currency and other financial markets are reacting to the news and there will inevitably be a period of adjustment. But hearing Mark Carney confirm that the central bank has “taken all the necessary steps” and that it “will not hesitate to take any additional measures required” is welcome.


The UK remains a member of the EU, so there will be no immediate changes to the movement of capital, goods and people or to the regulatory framework in the financial and other sectors.


The Prime Minister has confirmed that the exit process, to be triggered by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, will not start until a new leader is in place. We will be among the first to see that new PM when they take to the stage in Birmingham at the Conservative Party Conference. The negotiation of new trade agreements with European partners and further afield will be an important early task for them.


The Greater Birmingham economy remains strong, not least in the BPS sector. Local political and business leaders, working with the new West Midlands Combined Authority and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, need to continue attracting foreign direct investment and exploiting the opportunities provided by HS2.


The main priority for BPS Birmingham remains that of attracting and retaining talent and skills for our sector. That work continues with our Professional Services Week starting on Monday, aimed at encouraging more pupils in the city’s schools to consider a career in business, professional and financial services.


Thank you for your continued support of BPS Birmingham and l look forward to continuing to work together on a common agenda for our sector.