Theresa May’s industrial strategy blueprint comes at a perfect time

Providing a focus for the immediate future just ahead of the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations is a canny political move.

But aside from the politics of it all, the success of the strategy will be dependent on two things – its boldness and its longevity.

First, looking at boldness – when you think of industrial strategies of the past, you think of the government picking winners and pouring money into sectors with little thought to what they are trying to achieve. Actually there is a much bolder role needed for a modern industrial strategy and much of it is about creating the right environment for business. One bold move would be for the government to simplify the tax environment and promise a moratorium on all tax changes that don’t simplify the system until 2020 or the conclusion of

Brexit negotiations (whichever comes first). This will give businesses certainty to plan.

Second, the industrial strategy must be for the long term and go beyond the five year electoral cycle – no mean feat given the instability of UK party politics.

But there must be some broad cross-party consensus which will allow businesses to make long-term investments based on their confidence in the industrial strategy.

So a broad welcome from businesses for the industrial strategy but as ever the devil will be in the detail.

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