Brexit Party candidate Lance Forman speaks with Parliamentary Review
After losing faith in the Conservative party’s ability to deliver on the 2016 referendum result, Lance Forman – owner of well-known salmon curing business H. Forman & Son – decided to stand as a Brexit Party MEP candidate. The Parliamentary Review spoke with Lance to find out what he thinks about the upcoming elections and the Brexit Party’s role in them.
His business, H. Forman & Son, has London’s first PGI-protected product, and his company has been in operation since 1905, when Lance’s great-grandfather started selling smoked salmon in the East End.
Lance is no stranger to politics; from serving as a special adviser to Peter Lilley when he was a trade and industry minister in Thatcher’s cabinet, to hanging out with Michael Gove on his factory floor, he has become widely known in political circles. For decades, he believed in the Conservative Party and its values.
In recent times, however, he has become disillusioned with the party’s handling of Brexit and has switched stream to the Brexit Party, believing them to be the best vehicle for realising his hopes for the future.
The politicians are hearing a skewed message.
We began our conversation by discussing what he hopes to achieve by standing in these elections. He told us that the Brexit Party’s goal is quite simple: Deliver Brexit.
“This is no longer about whether we’d be better off inside or outside the EU; it is about respecting the outcome of the 2016 referendum, the largest democratic mandate in British history.”
On the topic of frictionless trade beyond Brexit, he said that many fears on this topic were exaggerated:
“The real friction for business is not at the border; it’s the everyday rules and regulations impacting on every business. Why should the 90 per cent of businesses in the UK who have no dealings with the EU be subjected to their rules? Mutual recognition of standards make much more sense than harmonisation.”
As a businessman first and foremost, one of the points he emphasised in our discussion is that the skills of a managing director are transferable to politics:
“Politicians are scared of making decisions,” he said. “They’re looking for answers that won’t upset their voters, but the world isn’t that black and white.”
“In business, you’re constantly weighing up the pros and cons and having to take decisions. You exploit the positives and protect against the negatives, but at least you make a decision and get on with it.
“People in the UK and overseas have watched, bemused, about the incapacity of our elected politicians to follow through on what the public voted for.”
Economic growth in the EU is hampered by red tape
An issue that particularly animates him is what he regards as the disproportionate political influence of big multinationals. They alone have the time, resources and inclination to agitate for change that’s only in their interests.
He contrasts this with the situation of SMEs, most of whom are too occupied with the day-to-day challenges of business to lobby: “The politicians are hearing a skewed message”.
As a businessman who supported Brexit, Lance was widely quoted in the 2016 referendum campaign when he talked about how European regulations hamper his business – for example, the mandate that even low-volume bespoke products are treated in the same manner as mass produced goods.
“One of my political priorities,” he declared, “is reducing the size of the state, which does so much to stifle businesses through red tape.”
In his view, “economic growth in the EU is hampered by red tape, and, what’s worse, in the UK, we have got into the habit of gold-plating those rules for our own businesses, making life for SMEs more challenging than it ought to be.”
With the European elections happening on 23 May, it won’t be long before we find out the public’s view on this.