Brexit Advisory Group is influencing debate at the highest level

The Chamber's newly-formed Brexit Advisory Group is already beginning to influence debate at the highest level.

Launched at the end of March, last week it hosted a business round-table event in Leicester with Lord Callanan, Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

Joining over a dozen businesses and the Chamber at the event were Justin Homer from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, MEP for the East Midlands Emma McCLarkin and Ian Harrison from the Department for International Trade.

Discussions during the two hour-long session included trade deals, the future of exporting post-Brexit, whether firms should establish a European base before the UK finally leaves the EU and the Irish border.

Concerns were also raised about delays at ports, particularly around the import of construction materials and perishable goods.

The Chamber was represented by Chief Executive Scott Knowles and Director of Policy Chris Hobson.

After the event Scott said: "Lord Callanan's visit gave us and members another very good opportunity to deliver to the heart of Government the concerns and asks of regional businesses over Brexit.

"It gave us another chance to reiterate the message that the East Midlands contributes more to the national economy than anywhere else in the UK outside London and the South and that as the creators of jobs and wealth it is vital that the views of regional businesses are taken into consideration at all level of Brexit debate.

"I talked to members after the event and they expressed a general opinion that they felt more confident about Britain's future relationship with the EU and global trading after hearing from Lord Callanan than they did before."

The Chamber's Brexit Advisory Group was set up in collaboration with Chamber Strategic Partner RSM, one of the UK's leading providers of audit, tax and consulting services, to help regional businesses navigate their way through the Brexit process, starting with the publication of a checklist of things firms should be considering now to ensure a seamless transition.

"Despite there being only a year to go, considerable doubt remains over what the future holds for business, with things to consider ranging from customs arrangements through employing EU nationals to contracts and Intellectual Property rights," said Scott.

"In business terms, a year is a very short time in which to go through all the documents, processes and programmes currently in use and revise all those that need it so that trading can continue post-Brexit."

The group is chaired by Dr Nik Kotecha, Chief Executive at Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals, which has supplied quality pharmaceuticals and medical device products to global markets for over 25 years.

It will shape and help deliver the Chamber's wider Brexit influence and support programme, including its ongoing lobbying activities based on business intelligence and needs.

It will lead MPs briefings regionally and at Westminster, help to shape the Chamber's 2018 Manifesto on Brexit and provide up-to-date information to businesses through seminars, workshops and the media about potential outcomes of the UK leaving the EU.

The Brexit briefing paper, published by the group and available for free electronic download from the Chamber's website here, is a checklist of things businesses should be focusing on now to minimise future risks resulting from Brexit.