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Lib Dem MP speaks at Richardson Business Roundtable

Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, was guest speaker at a business roundtable organised at the Richardson's West Midlands office.

Helen Morgan MP, centre, with Martyn Richardson (L) and Paul Faulkner (R)

Mrs Morgan, who took the seat in a shock by-election win following the resignation of former Tory MP Owen Paterson, ruled out the possibility of her party going into coalition with the Conservatives if the next election produced a hung parliament. She refused to be drawn on whether her party would do such a deal with Labour.

She said the party was more concerned with making a convincing case to the electorate than planning for a hypothetical situation.

The meeting, at Richardson's headquarters in Oldbury, was attended by over 20 business leaders, including representatives of the financial, industrial, property and export sectors.

They asked her questions relating to trade and regulations, brownfield development and support for small businesses.

Mrs Morgan said her party would be seeking a 'slow march' back towards Europe, beginning with the renegotiation of Britain's trading arrangement with the European Union.

But she ruled out any plans to rejoin the EU in the immediate term.

"We need to remove those non-tariff barriers in our trade with the EU," she said.

Speaking to the Express & Star after the meeting, she added that it was her party's long-term ambition to see Britain rejoin the EU, but said it would not be a priority in the short-term.

"We need to improve the deal we have with Europe, we need barriers to trade to be removed," she said.

"We need to rebuild our relationship with Europe, and that starts with renegotiating the trade deal.

"Ultimately our aim is to rejoin, but only when the time is right. When that will be, I don't know. We need to build up a consensus so that it is no longer controversial."

She questioned the logic of the present government's 'points based' migration.

"Why it's ok to bring skilled migrants in from abroad, but expecting British people to pick fruit, I don't understand," she said.

Mrs Morgan said in her own constituency a lack of affordable housing was stunting economic growth. Younger people were moving away she said, leaving an ageing population behind.

"I know of a business which is struggling to recruit for the health sector, and one of the factors in that is the lack of housing," she said after the meeting.

"We need more social housing, but if private developers can't make a profit from it, they are not going to build it. We need to look at how we can change that."

Richardson director Martyn Richardson told her there was a need to streamline the process for building social housing, as the present system took too long.

Mrs Morgan, who had worked for British Gas before entering parliament, warned that volatility in the energy market remained a major threat, and said it was possible there could be another shock next winter.

She said there was also a company in her constituency which had hoped to expand, creating 120 new jobs, but was unable to do so because the electricity grid was unable to meet its energy needs.

Mr Richardson said it had been an interesting opportunity for business leaders to learn more about the Liberal Democrats' approach to government. He said the party could prove to be influential when it came to determining the next government.

This report first appeared in the Express & Star newspaper. Full report here: Liberal Democrat MP is grilled by business leaders | Express & Star (


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