Members may wish to note the following positive Brexit news as reported in the BCC Weekly Update by Dr. Adam Marshall:

It is slightly ironic that, as it prepares to leave the European Union, the UK seems to be becoming more European in its holiday habits. Whereas people used to spread their summer holidays over a range of weeks, August has now become the focal point, and the Westminster and Whitehall machine is proving no exception.

In recent days, we’ve seen an unprecedented level of ‘pre-August’ activity coming from government and the courts. Over the past fortnight, we’ve seen:

- The start of debate on the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, where businesses will need clarity across a range of technical and regulatory issues — and where we will need to ensure that no additional burdens or costs are generated as the Bill works its way through Parliament;

- Announcements from the Home Secretary on the shape of the immigration system for EU nationals after 2019, which respond much more favourably to Chamber members’ recruitment concerns than previous pronouncements, and come with a commitment to study immigration needs objectively for the future;

- The start of talks by a UK-US working group, with Liam Fox and his US counterpart meeting in Washington to examine the possibilities for post-Brexit trade between the two countries - including the possibility of a free-trade agreement. I set out my view on the latter in last Sunday’s Observer; my article can be found here; and

- And many more too numerous to list here.

Yet, thinking back over the various policy announcements that have made the news over the past few weeks, I realised that many have a common thread: they have been influenced to a degree by the BCC and the accredited Chamber Network. Our work to establish a stronger relationship between business and the Home Office is starting to pay off, with a softer line on EU migration post-2019, and much more direct communication with the Home Secretary herself. Chambers’ work to ensure that HS2 delivers maximum benefit, both to communities along the route and to potential suppliers, has helped to ensure that this crucial addition to rail capacity comes closer to reality with each passing day. Chamber members’ comments and survey responses on US-UK trade allowed us the scope to take a strong view on what our government should be looking for in Washington, to ensure that any future changes to the trading relationship benefit UK business. Even where things don’t go our way, such as on rail electrification schemes, we are working together to try to reach new alternatives — and our collective voice is being heard.

Together, we now have a place at the heart of the key economic and political discussions affecting the future of our business communities and the country as a whole. While a quieter August beckons for some in Westminster, we will be working hard to prepare for what promises to be an eventful Autumn - starting with the resumption of withdrawal negotiations between the UK and the EU on the 28th of August.