As Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 this week, UK business groups are calling for a constructive negotiation and a practical, pro-business Brexit deal.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has promised the Government it will provide “constructive” support during Brexit negotiations. FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “FSB will continue to be a constructive partner with the Government on Brexit, especially on issues such as access to markets, to skills and labour, funding – as well as creating the right regulatory environment after Brexit.”
Cherry urged the Government to focus on the needs of small firms. “It’s vital that throughout the Brexit negotiations the small business voice is not lost and that the final agreement is positive for British business. The Government must push for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU based on ease and cost, and then support small firms to take advantage of new trade agreements with priority markets around the world.”
SMEs also need clarity, he said. “FSB members that export and import now need confidence that they will still be able to trade on the same terms. Those that employ non-UK EU citizens in their workforce will want early assurance they will remain, and that hiring new staff will not mean a new system with extra costs and burdens.”
The CBI said British businesses are “100% committed to making a success of Brexit”. Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, called for a “constructive tone for the talks”. He said: “Firstly, we want to see certainty for EU workers here and UK citizens overseas. Secondly, discussing new trading arrangements should go hand-in-hand with negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU. And we need both sides to commit to interim arrangements if a deal is not possible inside two years.”
On a similar note, Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “In the early weeks of the negotiation process, businesses would like to see an effort to secure simultaneous exit and trade talks. Now that Brexit negotiations are set to begin, businesses across the UK and their trading partners in Europe want answers to practical questions, not political posturing. A pragmatic and grown-up dialogue on the real-world issues … would give firms greater confidence over the next two years.”
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