Businesses call for a rethink on Brexit

10 Jul 2017

Well over half the businesses in the North West want the Government to rethink its Brexit strategy, and most don’t think  the Government has their interests at heart in negotiations.

These are the findings of a snap poll conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce following the General Election.

More than 500 businesses in the region, which includes Cumbria, participated in the survey.

Only 25 per cent felt the Government is prioritising the needs of business in the negotiations.

Just over a third were happy with Theresa May’s position that the UK should leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. 

But the majority, 58 per cent, want the UK’s Brexit objectives to be revisited. Of this 58 per cent, more than half said the UK should stay in both the Single Market and the Customs Union, a further 18 per said we should remain in the Single Market only, and 17 per cent in the Customs Union only.

Remaining in the Customs Union would mean no hard borders or tariff barriers but would limit the UK’s ability to negotiate trade agreements elsewhere.

Once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, 66 per cent of North West businesses want a transition period of at least three years. This would allow the UK to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union even after we formally leave the EU.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: "The day after the General Election, we called for the major parties to work together to establish a common negotiating position on Brexit.

"That hasn’t happened but at least the Government has opened a dialogue with businesses by setting up the EU Exit Council, chaired by the Business Secretary Greg Clark and attended by Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chancellor Philip Hammond.”

The British Chambers of Commerce is one of five business organisations represented on the EU Exit Council.

Rob added: "Businesses accept the decision of voters that the UK will leave the European Union. But we need a deal that supports growth, allows companies to hire more people, raises living standards and improves lives.

"In practical terms, that means maintaining the benefits of the single market and customs union until a final settlement is implemented, maintaining tariff-free trade between the UK and EU, keeping regulatory equivalence and mutual standards, and providing a flexible system for the movement of labour.”

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