The visit was used to strengthen relations with leading members of the Coalition Government and to promote further awareness of the Island’s value to the British economy. The presence of the Chief Minister and Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, in Birmingham continued the programme of engagement with the UK’s main political parties. The Isle of Man Government has also been represented at the Liberal Democrat and Labour Party Autumn Conferences as part of the ongoing drive to raise the Island’s profile among key political and business audiences.
The Ministers, who were accompanied in Birmingham by Chief Secretary Will Greenhow and Director of External Relations Della Fletcher, heard Prime Minister David Cameron MP outline his priorities for the future of the UK economy, welfare and education. They also listened to keynote speeches by Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
During the conference, the Chief Minister held productive discussions with Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, who is responsible for the UK Government’s relationship with the Isle of Man and other Crown Dependencies. Mr Bell also met David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and took the opportunity to highlight the Isle of Man’s important contribution to the City of London and North West business community.
The importance of developing trade links between the Isle of Man and North West region was further explored during talks with Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), and Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of The CityUK, the body which promotes the UK financial and professional services industries.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Attendance at the Conservative Party Conference provided an opportunity to meet influential members of the UK Government and business community. It was particularly useful to talk to Chris Grayling, who is new in post, to discuss a range of issues of mutual importance, and to gain an insight into the UK Treasury’s agenda from David Gauke. I see great potential in strengthening the Island’s political and trade relationships in the North West and was able to emphasise in a number of meetings how we can work in partnership to capitalise on new business opportunities. In a wider context, the party conferences provide the right platform to enhance understanding of the Island and its positive role within the international community.’
Minister Crookall attended forums focusing on issues such as education, non-formal learning and youth crime, and met Anne Longfield, the Chief Executive of UK charity 4Children which is spearheading an initiative to shape early years and childcare policy.
‘This was my first experience of a UK party conference and it underlined the importance of being on the ground to promote the Island’s political and business interests. On a personal level it was interesting to hear Michael Gove’s views on the current state of education in the UK, and to talk to Anne Longfield about the need to give children the best possible start in life.’Cabinet Office
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