The UK’s shock election has been bad for tech lobbyists caught up in delicate negotiations about Brexit, according to startup advocates Coadec.
Theresa May might be in power once again, but she reshuffled her Cabinet on Monday after the election returned a hung parliament. That included firing half the ministers in the Brexit department, such as junior minister David Jones. The department’s representative in the House of Lords, Lord Bridges, also resigned, according to The Daily Mirror.
That’s set back Brexit policy discussions, Coadec’s executive director Romilly Dennys said, speaking at The Europas conference in London today.
She said: “My main concern is that we’re seeing another shift within departments. I’ve spent a good three months talking to David Jones, Lord Bridges, who are both brilliant people and are now gone. We’re meant to be entering Brexit negotiations in a matter of days. It’s an utter shambles from a policy perspective.”
Dennys is a former special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith when he was Work and Pensions secretary, and joined Coadec last July.
The group has come up with a number of policy recommendations to make Brexit easier on the startup community — such as introducing a new type of visa.
It also recommended the UK’s British Business Bank make up for a VC funding shortfall left by the European Investment Fund, a policy proposal which found its way into the Conservative manifesto.
Daniel Korski, former special adviser at Number 10 to David Cameron and founder of public.io, was less sympathetic to UK tech.
He said UK tech had been too narrow-minded in its approach to Brexit. “The tech sector has been fighting parochially for its concerns,” he said.
He said the sector should instead come up with tech-powered solutions for a post-Brexit Britain.
“I think the sector has been woeful in thinking through how it can [say], ”Tech can transform Britain as we go on this journey of leaving the EU.’ They’re mainly worried about — with good reason — immigration, talent, and access to capital. But they have not really said, ‘We’re thinking through the future of customs systems.'”