Business

New Brexit secretary to love-bomb businesses at Chevening

New Brexit secretary Dominic Raab will tomorrow urge businesses to get behind the government's Brexit white paper after a recent series of comments drove a wedge between industry and Number 10.

Around 40 top business figures, responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK and the EU will attend the day-long summit at 17th century stately home Chevening House. It will also be hosted by business minister Richard Harrington, who recently broke ranks to admit no deal would be a "disaster" for industry.

The pair will be backed by senior officials from the Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU), who will be able to fill in the captains of industry on the latest round of talks with Brussels, which finished today (Thursday 19 July) with Raab meeting his EU counterpart Michel Barnier.

During his Brussels meeting, Raab offered to meet Barnier "throughout the summer to intensify negotiations, to get some energy, get some drive and get some heat on them to make sure we can conclude this agreement in good time", the Brexit secretary said on Thursday afternoon.

"Im sure in good faith, if that energy and that ambition is reciprocated, as Im confident it will be, we will get there," he added.

As well as an update on Brexit talks, the Chevening meeting will be used to reaffirm the government's commitment to business, with the relationship between the two sides at a low after former health secretary – now foreign secretary – Jeremy Hunt said it had been "completely inappropriate" for Airbus to speak out about its concerns.

Shortly after this it emerged former foreign secretary Boris Johnson had said "f**** business" during a private conversation with an ambassador.

Raab will be hoping to draw a line under both remarks, highlighting the transition period and white paper as examples of where government is listening to business' concerns.

Tomorrow he will tell business leaders The Chequers plan is one "that I hope you can all support, because it will deliver for you, your customers and your employees".

Raab will also press the case for the opportunities that Brexit should provide, saying: "We will step out as a truly global Britain, leading the world as we have many times before, as makers, innovators and entrepreneurs. I hope you share that conviction. Working together with confidence, ambition and optimism, we can deliver for generations to come.”

After an opening plenary session, there will be detailed discussions including on services and financial services, manufacturing, energy, chemicals, transport, pharma and digital.

It follows a meeting with business groups including the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors the day after Raab replaced David Davis, where he made a good impression.

Carolyn Fairbairn (CBI), Adam Marshall (BCC), Stephen Phipson (manufacturers' association EEF), Stephen Martin (IoD), Mike Cherry (Federation of Small Businesses) will be among those attending tomorrow, alongside bosses of firms in financial services, tech and manufacturing.