Business leaders back cabinet's Brexit deal

'It has taken two years for the UK to agree its position; we now have two months to agree it with Europe'

Sam Gelder
Saturday 07 July 2018 00:39 BST
Brexit: Theresa May secures Cabinet backing after meeting at Chequers

Business leaders have welcomed the plans for a new UK-European Union free trade area that were agreed at the Chequers summit.

Theresa May and her Cabinet thrashed out a deal that will see the UK agree to remain in line with the EU rules for all goods.

The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 businesses across the UK, said the proposals were a "good starting point".

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general, said: "Business will welcome the fact the Government has reached agreement. This is a genuine confidence boost and the Prime Minister deserves credit for delivering a unified approach. Initial signs suggest the proposal is based on the evidence firms have provided on the impact on jobs and living standards.

"That is good news - particularly the free trade area for goods, which the CBI and its members have long called for. The hard work starts now, and time is a challenge. It has taken two years for the UK to agree its position; we now have two months to agree it with Europe.

"As negotiations begin in earnest, business insight has never been more important. Detail matters - from customs arrangements to the need for the Government to keep fighting for our world leading services. Europe's leaders must approach this proposal with an open mind and flexibility, putting jobs and economic growth at the heart of a future deal that delivers for both sides."

The Institute of Directors has also reacted positively to the announcement.

Director general Stephen Martin said: "This seems a sensible approach to the challenging dilemmas the UK faces in these negotiations. The proposals touch on many of the complex issues regarding customs, regulations, and the Northern Ireland border, while also highlighting the importance of the UK being able to develop an independent trade policy.

"Our members have wanted Cabinet to come together and put the interest of the country first, so firms across the UK will see this as a positive step forward. Today's agreement, however, is not the end of the negotiations, and there is still much work to be done to reach agreement with the European Union. Time is still very much of the essence.

"The more clarity we have on the future trading relationship, the easier it will be for business to plan ahead. We hope today will turn quickly into progress in negotiations, and clarity for business on the path ahead."

TheCityUk said it was "helpful" the Government had set out its proposals.

Chief executive Miles Celic said: "It is particularly reassuring that the importance of services has again been recognised.

"We now await further detail in the forthcoming White Paper, not least around the issues vital to our ecosystem: regulation and mutual access to talent. In the meantime, we hope that the EU will respond to these proposals in a constructive and considered manner. Both sides must now seize this opportunity to put the interest of citizens and customers across Europe firmly at the heart of the process."

British Chambers of Commerce director general Dr Adam Marshall said: "For Brexit-weary businesses seeking clarity, this agreement brings hope of an end to months of disappointing Westminster in-fighting. We welcome the Cabinet's collective decision to prioritise trade and economic stability under the Prime Minister's leadership. For business, there is strength in unity as the UK seeks to develop a new relationship with the EU.

"As Chambers of Commerce have repeatedly argued, the priority must be to deliver clear and unequivocal answers to the practical, real-world questions businesses face. That remains the key test for the intense and complex negotiations that lie ahead."

Press Association

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