Opinion

How will Boris Johnson handle Brexit and the gig-economy?

5 min read

24 July 2019

What will our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson's tenure be defined by? Let's hope he sorts out Brexit and the issues plaguing the gig economy...

Our next Prime Minister has been announced, and he’s none other than the divisive politician, Boris Johnson.

He’s going to have his work cut out for him with the contentious issue of Brexit which will, (no doubt) continue to dominate the national and political agenda in the months and years to come.

But apart from Brexit, there’s another B-word I hope will dominate today’s headlines – and that’s our new PM, Boris! I recently went on record as backing him over Jeremy Hunt in the race to become our nation’s leader.

Why I backed Boris for PM

Hunt may be an entrepreneur – as he never tires of telling anyone willing to listen – but I believe Boris Johnson is the best hope we have of reuniting the UK and focusing on a variety of negative issues currently hampering SMEs.

Many have been lost in the fog of confusion which has hung over this country for the past few years – including late payments, the skills gap, red tape, the lack of bank lending. The list goes on – and all have an impact on our economy and the ability to innovate, grow and effectively compete on the world stage.

We’ve had plenty of Government ministers and mandarins paying lip service to such problems, whilst simply sweeping them under the political rug for someone else to sort out at a much later date.

Boris needs to take on the gig economy

One issue at the top of this long list that needs sorting – and needs sorting now – surrounds the so-called gig economy, a problem largely brought about by outdated employment laws that have failed to keep up with modern working practices.

Boris must, as a matter of urgency, sort out the abomination that is the dysfunctional mish-mash of laws that currently control a company’s ability to properly utilise self-employed workers.

The country is in a mess, sitting on the precipice of recession, we need some kind of economic boost that will send a signal to businesses that the Government is on their side, and also provide an incentive to take on new work and more workers.

Releasing employers from the risk of falling into the eight-year legal bear-trap that we went down in 2011 would achieve both of those goals.

My own experience – the rogue plumber

In brief, one plumber earned more than half a million quid working for Pimlico in three years, after signing a self-employed contract. There was never any doubt that this man, Gary Smith, knew he was self-employed.

Sadly, for Pimlico, however, he was still able to drag us into court, claiming hundreds of thousands in employment benefits as if he was employed, rather than a contractor (on huge contractor rates).

It took me eight years and God knows how many hundreds of thousands of pounds to defend the action. At one point we even ended up in the UK Supreme Court.

In the end, we were victorious, but you can see why employers, having seen this sorry saga play out in the courts and the papers, might think twice before taking on more staff.

The situation is urgent – get on it, Boris!

So with the economy practically flat-lining, sterling in free-fall, and business confidence at its lowest ebb since the last recession, I would urge our new PM as a matter of national urgency, to sort out employment law so that honest companies can take on contractors, and grow their businesses, without risk of being attacked in the courts.

So, Mr. Johnson, I sincerely hope you quickly set about the huge task of restoring the Conservatives to being the party of UK business.