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NCVO welcomes prime minister's offer to engage on Brexit

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, has written to the prime minister regarding engaging with civil society on Britain's departure from the European Union, following the statement she made to the house of commons on Monday 21 January regarding the withdrawal agreement. In the letter he says civil society has a lot to offer in shaping the kind of country Britain will become. 

Dear Prime Minister, 

In your statement to the house of commons (Monday 21 January) you indicated a personal desire to reach out beyond Westminster to engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions on Brexit. As the largest representative body for charities and volunteering in England, NCVO welcomes your government’s commitment to engaging more deeply with civil society. In particular, we would like to assist you in defining a clear role for civil society post Brexit and help to shape the kind of country we will become.

We share the aspiration you set out in your first speech as prime minister to make Britain a country that works not only for a privileged few, but for everyone. Given the divisions unearthed by Brexit, there is also a clear need to unite communities around a common vision for a better country. Civil society has much to offer here – helping to create a more inclusive economy, enabling people to find meaning and purpose and repairing divisions in our society. Charities, community groups, social enterprises and other forms of voluntary action can help to address the profound sense of disconnection between communities and decision makers by giving people real power to bring about change in their lives and beyond.

NCVO is well placed to convene civil society organisations and community leaders with whom the government might like to engage. This, crucially, would represent the diversity and breadth of civil society from local grassroots organisations through to the UK’s largest charities.  

We would be happy to meet you to discuss this further.  

I also wanted to thank you for your letter (3 December 2018) which provided useful clarification on the issue of anti-publicity clauses in government contracts. We have communicated this to our members and reflected the clear message that their right to campaign and their role in informing the development of public policy is recognised and respected by this government.

Yours sincerely, 

Sir Stuart Etherington

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