Prime Minister Theresa May's government seeks to charm British business over Brexit

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after attending the annual Henley Royal Regatta rowing festival in Henley-on-Thames, Britain, on June 30, 2017.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after attending the annual Henley Royal Regatta rowing festival in Henley-on-Thames, Britain, on June 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Prime Minister Theresa May's government is turning on the charm with British business.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will use a speech to executives in London on Monday night (July 3) to promise that he and other officials will listen to the concerns of companies regarding Brexit.

A week since establishing a new advisory panel of industry lobby groups, some executives have also been invited to talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis at Chevening, the country estate he splits with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The outreach suggests May's government is changing its tone on Brexit to make it more focused on the needs of the economy rather than reclaiming sovereignty over immigration and law-making.

Business leaders have long complained they have not been given enough opportunity to advise the government.  However, Hammond will also call on firms to do more to seize opportunities from Brexit and not to use the looming divorce as an excuse to delay investment or stop investing in workers.

For all the increased communication, some business leaders still want their own separate group, and long for the setup under former Prime Minister David Cameron, who created a panel of 20 company heads and met with them regularly.

Businesses need a way to provide an "enduring constant connection that will last far longer than Brexit," said Steve Varley, chairman and managing director for Britain and Ireland at EY. "We need to do something of more industrial strength."