CEO Update

Published: 17 November 2022

New Board Leadership Team for BAB

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Duncan Edwards
BritishAmerican Business

Just six weeks ago I was writing in my September newsletter to BAB members about the dramatic fiscal statement announced by Liz Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and the market turbulence that followed.  The UK’s parliamentary system allows for the removal of a Prime Minister in remarkably quick time once they no longer command the support of the House and this is precisely what happened.  Liz Truss resigned and Rishi Sunak won the resulting Conservative Party leadership contest without the need to go to the members.

The new administration is selling itself as grown up, competent and coldly realistic about the challenges that the UK faces and the expectation is for spending restrictions and tax increases. 

Judgement on the Kwarteng/Truss package was swift and decisive but the accusation that struck me as most telling was that the scale and breadth of their fiscal statement seemed not to have been communicated to the markets, the parliamentary party or even the cabinet in advance.  Preparing the ground and selling the vision is surely leadership 101?

That the markets have stabilized with the arrival of Rishi Sunak and Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is to be welcomed of course, but BAB members will want to know where the pro-business and pro-growth aspirations are in this new fiscal landscape.  Our view remains, for example, that increasing corporation tax rates will make the UK less competitive for investment and as a place to record earnings. 

The political scene in the US has been no less interesting than in the UK with the much-anticipated mid-term elections.  With a few remaining seats still to declare it looks like my last newsletter called this about right.  A small majority in the House for Republicans but the Senate remaining in Democrat control…possibly with one extra seat.

Everyone will have their own views about the pros and cons of divided government – an old mentor of mine used to say, the only thing worse than a government that can’t do anything, is a government that can – but it is a reality that the USA is accustomed to.  It probably means we have seen the last of the huge spending bills for the time being as the political focus shifts to the 2024 presidential race.  Our hope is that pro-trade representatives in the House will make the argument for a re-opening of substantive trade talks with the UK, but we hear little from the Administration to suggest that this is a priority.

That said, there is a lot more that we will be working on in the policy space with a particular focus on digital trade, data, IP, tax, labor mobility, SMEs and the state level MOUs all getting real attention.  If you would like to know more about our policy work please just send an email to me or our Policy Manager, Dagny Ahrend.

We held our Annual General Meeting on October 27th and our Board elected a new leadership team; Gavin Patterson, president and chief strategy office at Salesforce was elected BAB Chair and Alastair Borthwick, CFO at Bank of America, Vice Chair.  The seniority of this team and the businesses that they represent are a good sign of the growing influence of BAB as a policy and convening network for the transatlantic business community and we are thrilled to have them.

The AGM happened during a busy fortnight when I was in London.  We held our annual reception with the British American Parliamentary Group of MPs and Peers with guest of honor, Ambassador Jane Hartley and then our Gala lunch with the Ambassador 10 days letter.  Sadly, the Ambassador caught Covid and couldn’t make the Gala but was brilliantly represented by her deputy, Matthew Palmer and the UK Government by newly restored Trade Minister, Greg Hands.

Our autumn program is in full swing with the return of the Transatlantic Finance Forum across a series of live and virtual events as well as a host of other round tables covering a multitude of topics.  As always, you can keep track of the programming on our events page here.

And finally, it is not too late to join the legendary New York Holiday Lunch on Dec 9th with all the usual seasonal fun and gifts!  It will be world cup quarter finals that day and hopefully at least one of England, Wales and the USA will still be in the competition!  Good luck to whoever you are cheering for!

(L-R) Tom Lewthwaite, Senior Partner, Deloitte; H.E. Hon. Jane D. Hartley, US Ambassador to the Court of St James’s; Rt. Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom; Duncan Edwards, Chief Executive, BritishAmerican Business