A quintet of leading British business lobbies have co-drafted a strongly worded letter urging government demanding an urgent Brexit transition deal.
The private letter, which was obtained by Sky News, is written by The Institute of Directors (IoD), Confederation of British Industry (CBI), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and the EEF manufacturing body.
It’s yet to be sent to David Davis, but reportedly warns that an agreement on a transition "is needed as soon as possible, as companies are preparing to make serious decisions at the start of 2018, which will have consequences for jobs and investment in the UK".
The letter adds: "It is vital that companies only have to undertake one adjustment as a result of the UK's withdrawal, not two - and that businesses, the UK government and authorities in the EU have enough time to make the changes needed to deliver Brexit successfully."
This warning comes after a particularly torrid period for the government.
At home, the prime minister has been locked in a bitter intra-party dispute over her leadership, while Brexit divorce negotiations have reached deadlock. EU negotiators have been playing hardball, demanding more concessions before entertaining discussions on trade and transition.
All five lobby groups are asking the government to make the concessions necessary to unlock the talks on trade. In a statement, the IoD’s head of EU and trade policy, Allie Renison said that Brexit was “not a game of brinkmanship; the livelihoods of too many businesses and employees are at stake.
“Holding fast to points of principle should not be the overriding concern here, particularly when it comes to moving on to discuss transition and the future relationship. Rigidity will cost both sides dearly, whether it is on the European Court of Justice’s role for citizens’ rights, discussing the financial settlement or the inevitability of talking about trade across the Irish border.
“Showing flexibility is not the same as showing weakness. Rather it is a reflection of the remorseless logic of the time constraints we face.”
About Francois Badenhorst
I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter.