The Lord Mayor of the City of London urged exporters to keep relations with Europe “warm” to ensure Britain gets the best Brexit deal.
On a visit to Sheffield City Region, Lord Mountevans said if clients were happy they would tell their governments to go easy on the UK, as it left the European Union.
Speaking to two dozen bosses at the Technology Centre at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, he said: “Don’t let any cold or distance creep into your relationships with European clients. If they are happy they will tell their governments to go easy.”
The City of London Corporation provides local government for Britain’s financial heart, the Square Mile.
The Lord Mayor, an ambassador for the sector who spends 100 days overseas each year, also said the Northern Powerhouse concept had a high profile in London and around the world.
He said: “The Northern Powerhouse is good for the UK and there’s a lot of interest in it. It really resonates abroad.”
Earlier, he toured Sheffield University’s £43m Factory 2050 and had a briefing on hydrogen cars from Charles Purkess, of ITM Power.
He then spoke to executives and directors of firms – including AESSEAL, Footprint Tools, Durham Duplex, Parker President, Tinsley Bridge, Forgemasters CTW Hardfacing and The Floow –saying he was reassured the “real economy” was in such good shape during turbulent times.
He said: “Wow! This is a very inspiring story. After everything I’ve seen and heard today I need to spend some time in a darkened room to take it all in.
“There’s a real feeling of heritage and innovation from all of you at such a significant moment in Britain’s economic history, it’s very reassuring.
“As Lord Mayor, my job is to be an ambassador for financial and professional services, but the real economy is very important.
“I frequently get the opportunity to promote other industries and I’m really interested to do anything that helps. Manufacturing is critical.
“I have been to 24 countries this year and people say, ‘we love the Brits, we love what you do and we would like to see you more often’.”
The visit was organised by the Cutlers’ Company, which represents manufacturers in Sheffield City Region.
David Grey, former Master Cutler and chairman of OSL Group, urged the Lord Mayor to take away the message that doing business in Sheffield City Region was a “safe bet”.
He said: “We are used to selling abroad, whether it is compliance, currency, legal or accounting systems. We have a lot of heritage as well as one of the best Catapult centres in the UK, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
“When flying the flag abroad please spread the message Sheffield is a safe bet to do business with because we have been doing it for such a long time.
“This city region is used to welcoming business and it has one of the most closely integrated networks of public and private sector.
“Our history, capability and capacity de-risks the process and when bringing investors in, equally, we can manage that very well.”
The Lord Mayor said: “There are some very important financial services and businesses in Yorkshire. There’s a complimentary nature between London and the Northern Powerhouse.”
Professional and financial services firms want access to the single market and skilled European employees, said Lord Mountevans.
He added: “Clearly there is a contradiction and this is something that will have to be explained. There will be negotiations. There is a realisation in Europe they need our financial and professional skills.”
Lord Mayor praises region on ‘listening and learning’ visit
Speaking before his visit Lord Mountevans said he wanted to “listen and learn”.
Lord Mountevans said: “It’s essential we have a thriving economy in Yorkshire.
“The City has long been a provider of finance and there are also thriving local providers doing that.”
He added: “The new Prime Minister said we need a country that works for everyone.
“I see the regions featuring strongly in that. There’s a great awareness of these key cities.”
He added: “Leeds is a great financial centre – 10 per cent of the people in Leeds are involved in financial services.
“Leeds has the biggest number of lawyers working outside of London. More than 68,000 people work in financial services in Leeds.”