If Prime Minister Boris Johnson truly wants to make the 2020s a “decade of prosperity and opportunity”, as he set out in his New Year’s message, he must make economic growth - across all regions of the country - a top priority as he navigates the UK’s departure from the European Union at the end of this month.
And if he needs a reminder of how imperative this is, the latest research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) should certainly serve as one. The report suggests the UK economy “limped” through the final quarter of 2019, ending the year in “stagnation”, amid long-term uncertainty and rising business costs.
With his newfound majority following December’s General Election, Mr Johnson has, at last, brought an end to the Brexit stalemate that dominated Parliamentary business for much of the past 12 months. However, the hard work is far from done, not least if he is to improve the picture for Britain’s manufacturing and services industries, at the core of this nation’s economic output.
As BCC director-general Dr Adam Marshall rightly points out: “The end of political deadlock at Westminster must also bring action to renew business confidence and tackle the prolonged stagnation that’s affecting so much of the UK economy.”
Indeed, as Mr Johnson secures future trade relationships as he leads the UK out of the EU, he must give careful - and costed - consideration as to how he plans to stimulate growth post-Brexit, invest in business and infrastructure and ensure all communities have access to jobs that are fit for the future.