MASTER CUTLER: My fears for Brexit if Labour ‘implodes’

Master Cutler Richard Edwards. Picture: Andrew Roe
Master Cutler Richard Edwards. Picture: Andrew Roe
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The Master Cutler says the country needs a credible opposition in Brexit negotiations - amid fears Labour might “implode” in the General Election.

Richard Edwards said there must be a “large degree of scrutiny” of plans for the UK leaving the EU, to avoid a hard Brexit which prioritised a clampdown on immigration over the economy.

The Master, who leads manufacturing organisation the Company of Cutlers, insisted the organisation was apolitical.

But in his opinion it was undesirable for one party to have its own way.

He said: “We must have a strong, credible and critical opposition to have an informed debate and hold government to account. I don’t want the Labour party to implode, Brexit is so, so important to us.”

Most opinion polls showed the Conservative party heading for a majority, but as yet it had no clear stance on what it wanted from the negotiations, he added.

Mr Edwards said proper Parliamentary scrutiny might halt the hard Brexiteers.

He added: “Do not put the economy at risk, it must be put above politics. It is the most important factor to all, everyone has a vested interested in companies doing well, whether they are business owners or employees.”

The Master is hosting the upcoming Cutlers’ Feast - the North’s most important business dinner - at which Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Economy and Industrial Strategy, is headline speaker.

He said he’d urge Mr Clark to “put our case” on his return to London.

Mr Clark’s attendance, the second by the business secretary in two years, showed government had respect for the Company, was interested in manufacturing and thought Sheffield was a “business friendly” city, he added.

It comes after the government launched an industrial strategy across all departments which has been welcomed by manufacturers.

Mr Edwards added: “Whatever happens on June 10, we are saying, ‘stick with it’. We’ve got this excellent document which has tied up a lot of loose ends.

“Manufacturing has come back into vogue, there’s a realisation that the economy can’t depend on services and must have a broader range to it.”

The UK is the world’s ninth biggest manufacturer and employs 2.4m people, he added.

The Master Cutler is leading a trade mission to Dubai on Saturday.