The Duty of UK Business to Support the Prime Minister and the UK Enterprise Overall

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When I was kindly asked to write this by Mr Eli Haines, Cities of London & Westminster Conservative Association, Eli asked me to consider the question as to how the Prime Minister’s premiership will affect UK Enterprise, how UK Business will interact with the Government and how the Prime Minister’s vision and policies across both of these will enhance the Government’s Global Britain agenda.

To answer these we might first consider the words of The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP who accepted His Majesty’s invitation to form a new government on 25th October 2022. Speaking on the steps of No10 he said:

“Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis…The aftermath of COVID19 still lingers…Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over…I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda…This will mean difficult decisions to come…Levelling up and building an economy that embraces the opportunities of Brexit, where businesses invest, innovate, and create jobs…I understand how difficult this moment is…After the billions of pounds it cost us to combat COVID19, after all the dislocation…caused in the midst of a terrible war that must be seen successfully to its conclusions, I fully appreciate how hard things are…We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow, and everyday thereafter with hope.”

Secondly, we can assess where UK business is at this complex time. From COVID19 we know that global supply chains became disrupted. But since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, we also know that global markets have been disrupted too. They combine to a worrisome combination, just as the Prime Minister said in his speech.

That is not to say that our Science Superpower ambitions are limited, nor that London is not the 2nd most powerful financial centre on earth, and we sometimes forget how successful an exporting nation we are. Despite all of the challenges the UK exported GBP 723bn, the highest on record on a year-on-year basis to September 2022, and the following indicators of the UK’s fundamental strengths have not changed at all, being:

  • One of the world’s great trading, financial and manufacturing nations
  • A country that produces more Nobel Prize Winners for Science at one Cambridge College than the entire nation of our closest European neighbour
  • A permanent P5 member of the Security Council at the United Nations
  • A leading member of FIVE EYES, founded on the USA-UK Special Relationship
  • Part of the development of the extraordinary AUKUS agreement between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom in submarines and future technologies,
  • NATO’s 2nd most powerful Western military nation, deploying the world’s 2nd largest diplomatic network and leading the European response to Ukraine,
  • The 5th largest economy in the world by GDP with Pound Sterling remaining one of the world’s 4 great reserve currencies
  • One of only 5 nations with an undersea nuclear deterrent and one of only 2 with a combined 5th generation aircraft and Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier capability.
  • Able to project naval power 10,000 miles away in the Indo-Pacific and with the most advanced Submarine Service in the world.

Nor should we forget that we are an example to democracy the world over through our unique Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy, with the world’s “most brilliant Civil Service” available to implement the Government’s agenda, English being the world’s language and London sitting at the centre of global time itself. Just as the UK was at the centre of the world’s shipping lines in the late 18th century, so it is at the centre of the world’s undersea network of cables that enable 96% of our internet today (if you overlay a map of the latter onto one of the former the correlation is a remarkable one). So, whilst UK Business is certainly undergoing concerning challenges, the underlying “UK advantage” in support of it from the combined “UK Enterprise” overall is as overwhelming in the United Kingdom’s favour as it ever has been.

Thirdly, we can explore what the United Kingdom’s aim is. In the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development & Foreign Policy 2021, it was defined as being a “Global Force for Good”, placing Trade & Finance at the centre of our Defence and Diplomatic capabilities, and making UK Business a vital core component of UK success overall.  

The United Kingdom’s global leadership on the Ukraine is definitive, with the UK being the world’s 2nd largest contributor to Ukraine of defence equipment aid, military training, intelligence and security, across the maritime, land and air domains and, perhaps the cyber and space domains too.

There is a political analogy when considering UK Business and UK Enterprise. The Conservative & Unionist Party is the most successful political party in history. The Cities of London and Westminster Constituency Association is the largest Conservative constituency association in the United Kingdom. Whilst we are operating at a politically challenging time, and whilst UK Business is too, across its domestic and global markets, we must be mindful that just as our political infrastructure is robust and resilient enough to protect our Party’s long term national interest, so too is the UK Enterprise similarly robust and enduring, provide an enduring and sustainable environment in which UK Business will prosper.

To adapt Disraeli’s definition of Conservatism, which was given as being about the “elevation of the condition of the people”, we could say today that our national purpose is to:

“Elevate the condition of our people at home, and those overseas, in a shared national endeavour to succeed”.

National prosperity ensures our domestic stability and domestic security. These are the pre-requisites of national prosperity, providing the means by which we can finance our collective security to generate global stability and global security, which are the basis’ for global prosperity. This “prosperity continuum” is a national interest, why the Government’s Export Strategy of 2021 and its Advanced Research & Invention Agency are so critical and what being a “Global Force for Good” means.

So the real answer to Eli’s highly apposite question is that now is the time, during a passing period of great challenge and complexity, for UK Business to support the UK Enterprise, by working with and applying the vision of our Prime Minister, and the Government’s agenda, across the fields of science, technology, invention, innovation, exporting, employment, enterprise. It means applying our “creative determination and will”, as the moral and physical components to serve the country we love, and support the Prime Minister and our Constitution, which rose so quickly to the challenge of Her Majesty’s passing, and continue to play our part to make a better, safer world, by applying the Global Britain agenda, with successfulTrade and Finance at its centre.

God Save The King.

Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter OBE is Chairman of Coltraco Ultrasonics, Director-General of The Durham Institute of Research, Development & Invention at Durham University, Professor-in-Practice at Durham University Business School, Director of the Centre for Underwater Acoustic Analysis, a Visiting Fellow of the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre, Chairman of the Geostrategy Forum at The Council on Geostrategy, Chairman of the British Exporters Association and a longstanding member of the Conservative Party.

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