NEWCASTLE-based political consultancy Invicta Public Affairs is celebrating its first birthday in the city, not with candles and a cake, but with a warning on the dangers that lie in a vote to leave the EU.
With a little over a month until the referendum, the firm of business and political experts has outlined its fears on the potential devastating impact a Brexit could have on UK firms and economic growth. Mark Stephenson, Invicta head of public affairs, said:
“Invicta is celebrating one-year at our Milburn House base in Newcastle against the backdrop of huge political uncertainty, not least of all due to the EU Referendum on 23 June, which is clearly impacting on business’ appetite to invest and grow.
“We work closely with a wide range of investors from around the world and all, bar none, are concerned about the possibility of a UK-EU exit. Added to this, clients within the UK are holding back on major and minor investment decisions while this period of uncertainty lingers. The direction of policy and of our economy could change greatly come 24th June so businesses are being understandably cautious.”
The public affairs consultancy last year relocated its UK headquarters to Newcastle, while expanding its team of advisers which work with businesses in the energy, housing, retail and commercial development sectors.
“We have had a fantastic first year and we look set for that to kick on into our second,” added Mark. “But it’s a huge shame that the referendum is casting such a huge shadow across all sectors and our political landscape – it would be wrong of us to celebrate our anniversary when our clients are so concerned about the UK’s uncertain future.”
Invicta advises 150 clients and has helped businesses realise over £2bn of UK investment in the past ten years alone.
Jessie Joe Jacobs, North East Field Director with Britain Stronger In Europe, said: “Invicta, like many growing North East businesses, is doing well. It is no surprise therefore that they are fearful about the results of the referendum and want to use their birthday to highlight these fears.
“The 100,000 jobs related to EU trade, our economy, regional investment and hard earned workers rights are all at risk. Its enough to bring any party to an early end.”
Mark added: “Invicta has gone from strength to strength and we hope to recruit and grow further in the coming months. Ideally the UK will continue to reap the benefits of EU membership and this would undoubtedly provide opportunities for us, our clients with resulting jobs and wealth creation that this entails.”
Invicta Public Affairs’ Director Mark Cummings has argued last Thursday’s election results show a very fragmented picture and point to a new reality for British politics. Where in the past we would have seen a uniform sweep across local, national and devolved elections, the differential nature of voting throughout the UK now means far less political certainty.
Invicta Public Affairs has 15 years experience advising businesses across a range of sectors in Scotland, helping to navigate the often complex regulatory frameworks. The firm uses it’s expertise and experience in working with devolved Government to assist businesses throughout the UK in successfully navigating the challenges and opportunities that go hand in hand with greater decentralisation of powers.
Reflecting on the implications of Thursday’s results Director of Invicta Public Affairs Mark Cummings explained:
“We are currently in a period of significant political change. We see an electorate energised by the upcoming EU referendum and this is not necessarily good for businesses. The increase in support for UKIP in England and particularly Wales this week points to at least another 1-2 months of further political uncertainty as the referendum remains too close to call.”
While the results of the English Local Elections were largely unremarkable, Mr Cummings argues we are likely to see further fragmentation of voting patterns in England over the next few years as the planned devolution of powers to city regions becomes a reality. He explains the risks:
“There is still little certainty as to the expected political makeup of these devolved bodies or how they would operate. The truth is we don’t know how voters will react when asked to vote for a regional mayor but our experience working with devolved government suggests to us it will deviate from traditional voting patterns.
“As is the case with the EU referendum and the threat of a further vote for Scottish Independence, the lack of certainty engendered by these proposed changes ultimately discourages businesses from making investments and will stymie growth in the areas impacted.”
The results last week in Scotland on the other hand seem to signal an unexpected period of much needed political stability. He continued:
“The SNP’s failure to secure an overall parliamentary majority means they are far less likely to seek to push through a further independence referendum during this parliament. Without the necessary backing from MSPs they would struggle to get enough support for such a vote.
“This is excellent news for businesses in Scotland; it has reached a period of relative political normality and the leadership can now look forward to bringing in their programme of Government without the constitutional wrangling that dogged the previous Parliament.”