It is vital that we leave the EUin a stable and orderly manner - Liz McAreavey

After the election result we need to work towards a prosperous future

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 6:45 am

As the electioneering banners come down and the Christmas tree lights go up, more than ever the festive break is a welcome distraction from the political turmoil and divisiveness of the past few months.

The country, through our democratic process, gave a decisive victory to Boris Johnson and the Brexit question, which will undoubtedly see us exit the European Union on 31 January 2020.

As we have said since the very start of this roller coaster ride, if we have to leave the European Union, then it is vital we do so in a stable and orderly manner.

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Businesses in Edinburgh would like a degree of certainty on our future relations with the EU so we can move on with investment and recruitment decisions. Businesses have also been clear from the outset that a no-deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.

There is a heroic task ahead over the course of 2020 to ensure we negotiate this future relationship and avoid defaulting to a no-deal Brexit situation this time next year. So for many, the anxiety will sadly continue for some time.

Whether or not we, as businesses or individuals, are happy with the election result or agree with the eventual exit from the EU, it is a reminder that for those with opposing views, it feels like their views and voices are not heard or represented.

But as Winston Churchill said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

Going forward, it must be business as usual and our main goal over the coming year is to ensure the voices of Edinburgh businesses are heard loud and clear, and that is what we intend to do as we work towards greater representation and challenge those in power to hold them to account.

But there is a final reflection as the year comes to a close and we make sense of where we are as a nation. Brexit aside, we need to heal the division and address the dishonesty that has overtaken our political process.

The least we should expect and deserve from our leaders is honesty, integrity and fairness.

There are many whose voices are never heard. Those socially left behind, those not earning a sufficient wage to keep them out of poverty or those whose circumstances mean they do not get a fair start or equal opportunity to succeed and excel.

We need prosperous businesses to create new jobs, invest in their people, adopt technology, upskill, pay higher wages and contribute to the success of our economy. Working together with new partnerships between government, local authorities, innovators, academics and business is crucially important. No one should be left behind, everyone must have a voice.

Have a great Christmas break, the hard work starts again in 2020!

Liz McAreavey is CEO of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce