Businesses hope election will end Brexit logjam

Business chiefs in the UK have given a lukewarm welcome to parliament's decision to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bid to hold a general election on December 12.

landscape image of the Houses of Parliament in the distance
While it is hoped the result of the poll could herald an end to the political impasse that has left the minority Conservative government impotent, there remain fears that the outcome might only emphasise the nation's deep divisions over Brexit.And few expect anything but that the campaign will be dominated by Brexit with the Tories stressing the need to get their Withdrawal Agreement with the EU approved by the incoming parliament.

National Institute of Economic and Social Research analysis of Johnson's Brexit deal

That deal, however, received a setback on Wednesday when an independent think-tank, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), published an analysis suggesting Mr Johnson's deal would leave the UK economy £70 billion worse off.The analysis concluded that the nation's gross domestic product would be 3.5% lower in a decade's time under the deal because it "would reduce the risk of a disorderly outcome, but eliminate the possibility of a closer trading relationship with the EU".However, a Treasury spokesman in London said, "We are aiming to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union, which is more ambitious than the standard free trade deal that NIESR has based its findings on."

Institute of Directors: businesses will not be enthusiastic but will hope the deal can break the Brexit logjam

Reacting to the announcement of a general election, Jonathan Geldart, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said businesses would not view the prospect "with any great enthusiasm".However, he added, "They will hope it could provide the means to break the logjam. Directors want to move on from the Brexit stalemate and start addressing the numerous other challenges facing enterprise."They will want to see all parties stick to sensible, achievable plans that enable the country to do this. Given the past few years of stasis, we have to make up for lost time in areas from skills gaps to infrastructure, and business leaders will not wish to see these issues go ignored during an election.“Make no mistake, however, an election won’t help alleviate the short-term stress for companies as they head into the Christmas period.”

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Confederation of British Industry: an election offers a chance to break the "gridlock that has blighted our country"

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), sounded a more upbeat note. “This may be a winter election but it must bring a spring thaw to our frozen economy," she said.“It offers a one-off chance to break the gridlock that has blighted our country for over three years – we urge politicians on all sides to take it.“It’s also an opportunity for all parties to present their visions for the UK’s future. By replacing ideology with evidence, the next government – working alongside business – can show the UK is a great place to invest, start and build a company.“Passing a good deal with the EU is the first step. Then the real heavy lifting can begin, building a future relationship with our biggest trading partner based on regulatory alignment, frictionless trade and the UK’s all-important services sector.“Ending political instability will enable a renewed focus on domestic priorities, including education and infrastructure, which will transform the jobs and livelihoods of millions of people.“Only by working together can politicians and business seize the opportunities ahead and overcome shared challenges, from technology to climate change.“The prize is a more prosperous, sustainable and fairer United Kingdom for generations to come.”

Federation of Small Businesses: small business owners and self-employed should register to vote so their voices can be heard

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, called on business owners and self-employed Britons to ensure they were registered to vote in the election.“The last three years have been dominated by the B-word with much of the domestic agenda falling by the wayside," he said."A general election gives our 5.8 million small businesses the opportunity to tell MPs across the UK that this cannot continue. It is time for them to get back to the business of resolving the many domestic challenges such as radically reforming business rates, tackling the looming apprenticeships funding crisis and making sure local roads get the focus they deserve, that have been neglected because of Brexit.“I am urging all small business owners and self-employed to get out there and register to vote. It is vital that every small business has their voice heard in December.“A motivated small business community can hold potential MPs to account and ensure that they commit to driving a domestic focused agenda aimed at supporting and empowering them.” 

For more news and views, visit our dedicated UK and Brexit sections. 

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