Charlie Mullins OBE, owner of Pimlico Plumbers, speaks out
Now the Brexit Bill has cleared its final hurdle in the House of Lords and the Prime Minister is poised to trigger Article 50 before the month is out, I hope she uses the final few days to sharpen her negotiating skills to make sure she gets the best deal for Britain and British business.
I was, of course, disappointed the Lords, and some MPs, didn’t hold their nerve over the amendment to the bill, which would have given Parliament a vote over the final contents of the deal. Essentially the Government has been given free-reign to decide on what they think is best for the country, without sense-checking it with their colleagues around the House. A more common sense approach might have been to write in a parliamentary safety valve that would cut off a bad deal in its tracks.
However, that process our politicians have just gone through wouldn’t have even happened if we hadn’t injected some democracy into the process by taking the Government to court. The sparring we did with the Government proved to Europe and the rest of the World that we are proud of our political system and even those outside of Parliament are committed to seeing that the right thing is done when it comes to our sovereignty.
And I think Mrs May and her team will have benefited from that sparring, because, as any boxer will tell you, the run up to the big fight is when the hardest work is done. It’s also when the trainers give their boxer the hardest time to make sure they are in peak condition to take on their opponent.
But, from the moment their contender steps through the ropes into the ring, the attitude of the trainers change to become motivational and supportive to help see their fighter to victory.
As a former amateur boxer myself I know how important this all is and how, in the equally rough and tumble world of politics, the Prime Minister will need similar support.
I think the European Union will find her a formidable negotiator and she will come back to Britain with a deal that will help the country prosper and will not need to return to Parliament for another vote on its content.
From the moment Mrs May triggers Article 50, the economic landscape will start to change, but I urge business owners, city traders and politicians to not create a self-fulfilling prophesy where we all suffer from uncertainty. The economy survived the referendum vote; we need to make sure it does the same during negotiations.
I balance my position as a proud and dedicated ‘remainer’ with my role as a practical entrepreneur who has built a career and a successful business by dealing with the cards I’ve been dealt. As such, we need to keep calm, work hard and continue to do our bit to win business and create jobs.
It’s what we did during the last recession and I’m sure we’ll continue to do again once Britain is operating outside the European Union in two years’ time. I hope that Mrs May is up for the contest when she steps into the ring with the EU and can come away with a deal that gives our economy a fighting chance in what’s becoming an increasingly-competitive international field.