Brexit ramifications to be tackled by Lord Maude at WSTA conference

Former front bench minister Lord Francis Maude of Horsham will bring expertise on UK trading arrangements to the annual WSTA conference, which focuses on the impact of the EU referendum result.

Lord Maude is the keynote speaker at the conference, which takes place on September 13 at The Royal Institution of Great Britain in central London.

The theme is “Brexit and the changing shape of the industry” and Lord Maude has an insider’s perspective on how it will play out, having only resigned from his Ministerial post in February 2016.

He said he has “lived and breathed” international trade matters for nearly three decades and is the WSTA said his recommendations will play a large role in shaping its future strategy.

Lord Maude spent 25 years on the front bench and his roles included Minister for Trade, Minister for Europe, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, while he has also served as Conservative party chairman.

The WSTA believes he is uniquely well placed to give his dispassionate view of what the future holds for the drinks industry.

Lord Maude said: “I hope my talk will provide practical insights for one of the UK’s most successful industries, including about what to expect next following the UK vote to leave the EU.

“I have lived and breathed European and international trade matters for nearly three decades. I negotiated the early Single Market measures, was Margaret Thatcher’s Minister for Europe and was deeply involved in the Maastricht negotiations. More recently I was at the heart of the Conservative Party’s thinking on European policy as Shadow Chancellor, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Part Chairman.

“My aim will be to offer my views on how Theresa May’s government is likely to approach Brexit and how the UK government’s approach will be received; as well as to draw out some lessons form some of my own experiences in international and Single Market trade discussions.

“The UK wine and spirit industry deserves its leading place in the global market and is vital to this country’s economic prospects. I hope to cast some light during what are uncertain times for WSTA members and British businesses more generally, especially ones trading with the rest of the world. But there will be opportunities as well, and industry and government will need to work together closely to identify and then grab them.”

When Lord Maude retired in February, then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is difficult to adequately pay tribute to such a substantial political career: almost 30 years dedicated public service, including over 25 years on the Conservative front bench, over half of which have been in government. 

“In the important role [of Minister for Trade] you have helped transform the government’s export strategy; provided key leadership to help guide and expand UKTI’s responsibilities, and in doing so, you have put a plan in place to turn around our export performance, ensuring UK businesses succeed in international markets, and encouraging overseas companies to look at the UK as the best place to set up or expand their business.”

The wine and spirits industry will aim to benefit from this formidable expertise, particularly as between 2015 and 2016, Lord Maude sat in the Trade Ministers Council and was heavily involved in international trade negotiations.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “For a genuinely global industry like wine and spirits, Brexit will have seismic and game-changing effect on our trade and the WSTA’s agenda. Our aim is to provide members with as much informed comment during such uncertain times. There are few more authoritative voices on trade than Lord Maude, the last government’s Trade Minister – and even fewer with such long experience.

“Lord Maude will have a fascinating, insightful view on how the future of our industry – and our country – is likely to look outside the EU. We are very lucky to have him speak to us and I am greatly looking forward to hearing his views. They will influence what the WSTA does next.”