Hammond returns to favour with softer Brexit stance

Any hopes among limited company contractors that the Tory architect of the much-disliked plan to cut the dividend allowance will lose his job are being dashed.

Seeming to strongly suggest a revival in his political fortunes, the chancellor, who hatched the plan at Budget 2017, was said at the weekend to command support from a hefty two-thirds of the public.

It represents an about-turn in the prospects of Philip Hammond, as on the eve of the general election he was regarded as aloof and isolated amid reported differences with Number 10.

But in a further political turnaround, 65% of the public now oppose Theresa May’s stance of ‘no deal on Brexit being better than a bad deal’ for Britain -- about the same chunk who are giving their backing to Mr Hammond instead.

Based on a Mail on Sunday survey by pollster Survation, the findings seem to be an endorsement of the chancellor’s position on Brexit (he is known to want a softer Brexit than Mrs May), rather than a personal endorsement.

It comes as status advisory Qdos Contractor said it supported efforts to avoid a ‘hard’ Brexit because such a deal, or no Brexit deal at all, would fail to “revitalise struggling freelancer confidence.”

Referring to its new poll of 1,350 contract professionals, the advisory found that almost four in ten contractors said they expected the UK’s ‘leave’ decision to “negatively impact” them.

And almost twice as many contractors (70%), will simply give the EU a wide berth, as they either say they do not work on projects in the rest of Europe, or do not have any plans to.

“[The] chaos following last week’s general election…does raise the possibility of a ‘softer Brexit,’” said Qdos Contractor’s chief executive Seb Maley.

“We urge the Brexit negotiators to prioritise access to the single market, and with it the free movement of people and workers. Freelancers and contractors are vital to business, essential to the UK economy, and should be factored strongly in any exit plans.”

Recruiters largely agree. At staffing giant Reed, which warns of worsening skills shortages once Brexit completes, the drop in EU applicants to UK firms has leapt from 28% to a reported 43%.

All the major lobbyists for the businesses that staffing agencies serve will today publish a joint-letter calling on Greg Clarke, the business secretary, to deliver the “softest of soft Brexits,” The Sunday Times reported.

With co-signatories including the CBI, the IoD and the Federation of Small Businesses, the letter coincides with the start of Brexit negotiations, reportedly expected by one Brussels insider to have to cover more than 7,000 separate issues.

“The UK is set to negotiate its leave from European Union,” confirmed Qdos’ Mr Maley. “But…less than one in five freelancers or contractors believe this is set to benefit their business, [so it] is of course concerning.” 

Jun 19, 2017