Businesses urge MPs to back Brexit compromise

Desperate to avoid a no-deal Brexit, UK business leaders plead with Members of Parliament to consider Prime Minister Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement.

A photo illustration of the UK Houses of Parliament in evening light
Business leaders in the UK are pleading with politicians to back Prime Minister Theresa May's 10-point compromise package ahead of what is expected to be her final attempt to get parliament to back her EU withdrawal agreement, which has already been rejected by MPs three times.Mrs May said her "new Brexit deal" represented a final chance for MPs to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum and take the UK out of the EU. There seemed little enthusiasm in the Commons, however, to back the deal.Her package includes offering MPs a vote on holding a second referendum; a choice over a future customs deal with the bloc; a legal commitment to conclude alternative arrangements to replace the Northern Ireland backstop by December 2020; and a commitment to near-frictionless trade with the EU27 – but an end to free movement of people.Mrs May said her proposals could, "end this corrosive debate" over Brexit, adding, "The biggest problem with Britain today is its politics."

Brexit uncertainty costing firms dear

John Allan, president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) pleaded with politicians to back Mrs May's plan, saying Brexit uncertainty was costing firms dear, with the economy suffering four successive quarters of falling investment and with companies stockpiling goods at record levels.He told the CBI's annual dinner in London on Tuesday evening, "I have a plea, from the heart of business, to the heart of politics. Resolve this gridlock. Do whatever it takes and do it fast."The prime minister's decision to bring back the Withdrawal Bill in early June is one more opportunity for parliament to resolve this mess."Parliament must seize that opportunity – if not, the uncertainty will become far more acute. It's not for business leaders to tell politicians when to trigger democratic events, but be in no doubt: political failure today means economic failure tomorrow. We need to find a way through."In a statement, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, added, “Brexit has left the economy stranded in no man’s land. The prime minister’s offer provides a way forward, but only MPs can take it.

Find the spirit of compromise

“Businesses urge them finally to find the spirit of compromise that has eluded them so far. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.”Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented, “Businesses need concrete outcomes to plan for the future. In the absence of parliamentary consensus on either the Withdrawal Agreement or any other proposition for the future, both businesses and investment remain in limbo.“Companies across the UK are frustrated, but most are still concerned about the prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU. The date may have changed, but the practical questions businesses face remain the same – and the real-world impacts of parliamentary indecision and delay are growing each and every day.”

A very real risk of a no-deal Brexit

Julian David, CEO of the technology lobby group techUK, said that, despite Mrs May's latest initiative, there was still a very real risk of a no-deal Brexit."techUK continues to believe that supporting the Withdrawal Agreement would provide clarity to tech businesses about our immediate future," he said."Yet there is little in the Prime Minister’s statement to give tech businesses confidence that a deal will be approved. The risk of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 remains very real in the minds of businesses. “The prime minister’s commitment around a ‘customs compromise’ shows some movement towards a customs union, which is important for tech firms supplying goods. However, techUK is deeply concerned that nothing in the prime minister’s speech referenced the importance of services.

Availability of skills through freedom of movement

"Services make up 81 per cent of tech sector exports and the majority of the UK economy. It remains very worrying that the PM continues to dismiss the importance of the Single Market, and the availability of skills through freedom of movement.“Despite our significant concerns, techUK strongly urges parliament to give proper consideration to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the UK’s place as a global hub for tech, and must be avoided at all costs.”

Read the latest Relocate news about Brexit

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles