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Ed Davey and Lib Dems win out at the 2019 Small Business Debate

December 4, 2019 3:59 PM

The website Politics Home covered the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) hustings event last week, at which Trade Secretary Liz Truss, Deputy Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, and Labour's shadow business minister Bill Esterson were among five speakers setting out their pitch ahead of the general election on December 12th, when the votes of 5 million self-employed freelancers will be up for grabs.

An audience "exit poll" after the event showed Ed Davey achieved a whopping 14% swing for the Liberal Democrats during the Small Business Hustings, hosted by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), Enterprise Nation and the Entrepreneurs Network. He won over the audience, with 54% stating an intention to vote Liberal Democrat after seeing his performance, compared to 40% beforehand. The Conservatives came in second, with 24% of attendees expressing an intention to vote for them after the hustings.

The full article is here https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/government-and-public-sector/opinion/ipse/108359/ed-davey-and-lib-dems-win-out-2019-small but a couple of highlights include

Ed Davey ferociously outlined the Liberal Democrats pro-business credentials, citing uncompromising support for the single market.
"We are the party that believes in free market, free trade and competition. We want to stop Brexit, because Brexit is a disaster."
"But we also want a whole set of reforms to help entrepreneurs in our country," he added.

Ed Davey's victory in the audience poll was secured when he delighted the room with a fierce attack on the Loan Charge.

IPSE has consistently raised concerns about HMRC's "retrospective tactics" on the Loan Charge. The Charge is an attempt to recover tax from disguised remuneration schemes.

Ed Davey was clear: "I set up the APPG on the Loan charge as I thought it was a scandal."

"It was a disgrace, it is a disgrace," he declared, to rapturous applause from the audience.

Ed Davey committed to "abolish the retrospective nature of the Loan Charge" if the Liberal Democrats have "any power" in the next Parliament.

"We want to make sure HMRC starts actually behaving in a lawful way," he concluded.

Maybe the move of business sentiment away from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats can also be partly explained by what is happening in the real economy. IHS Markit undertake a monthly survey of business activity to give a sneak preview of how the economy is performing. The November survey results were published today

Tim Moore, economics associate director at IHS Markit, says the UK economy is "staggering" through the final quarter of the year, with output falling at services companies and factories. "November's PMI surveys collectively suggest that the UK economy is staggering through the final quarter of 2019, with service sector output falling back into decline after a brief period of stabilisation.

"Lacklustre demand remains centred on business-to- business spending. Service providers have attributed the recent soft patch to delayed decision-making on new projects until greater clarity emerges in relation to the domestic political landscape. Sales to export markets were hard-hit in November, as signalled by the steepest fall in new work from abroad for more than five years.

"Service providers reported concerns that consumer appetite for big-ticket purchases has begun to falter, while those reliant on consumer footfall and discretionary spending noted the negative impact of unusually wet weather in November."Lower manufacturing production alongside an absence of growth in the service economy means that the IHS Markit/ CIPS Composite Output Index is consistent with UK economy declining at a quarterly rate of around 0.1%."