Businesses nervous over Theresa May successor

British business leaders are holding their collective breath to see who succeeds Theresa May as prime minister after she announced on Friday she was stepping down on June 7.

Photo of 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister, with a policeman standing guard outside
The oft-voiced concerns of business stem from the disarray in parliament over agreeing an orderly Brexit and fears that, if favourite Boris Johnson is successful in his campaign to succeed Mrs May, then a no-deal departure could be on the cards come October 31.

Adam Marshall, DG of the British Chambers of Commerce

Thanking Mrs May for her "decades of public service, Adam Marshall,Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “Businesses must be reassured that a change at the top in Downing Street does not simply usher in a longer period of posturing and gesture politics."Westminster has already squandered far too much time going around in circles on Brexit. As our global competitors get sharper and more strategic, Britain is still mired in indecision and uncertainty.  “The UK is already paying the price for a political system at war over Brexit. Our hard-earned reputation as a great place to do business has been tarnished. And for too long, government has been distracted from working with business to fix the fundamentals here at home, particularly around skills and infrastructure.“Any leadership contest must be swift and followed urgently by a clear plan to break the impasse. A new prime minister must work to avert a messy and disorderly exit from the EU. At the same time, preparations must continue to ensure that government, its agencies and our communities are as ready as they can be for all possible eventualities.” 

Carolyn Fairbairn, DG of the Confederation of British Industry

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, said Mrs May could not have worked harder to deliver a Brexit deal that protects the economy and said the PM left  office with the respect of business.“But," she added, "her resignation must be now be a catalyst for change. There can be no plan for Britain without a plan for Brexit. Winner takes all politics is not working. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake.
“Business and the country need honesty. Nation must be put ahead of party, prosperity ahead of politics. Compromise and consensus must re-find their voice in parliament.“We call on politicians from all parties, on all those ambitious to lead, to take this chance for a fresh start.”

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK,

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive Officer of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said: “Theresa May has worked hard to secure a pragmatic departure from the EU that protected our world class British manufacturing industry. We acknowledge her tenacity and hard work. In the last two years we have welcomed her focus on a modern industrial strategy and building strong relationships with business."Britain’s manufacturers now call on whoever takes over as prime minister to find a solution to the Brexit dilemma at speed. We have limited time before we leave the EU in October and we must avoid using much of that time engaged in Westminster politics."Extended lack of clarity over Britain’s future trading environment with our most important market risks making an already bad situation worse: Make UK has consistently highlighted how serious we consider this issue to be."It is critical that as we face the UK's biggest ever peacetime challenge, business and government work hand in hand."

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of the lobby group London First, said the next prime minister "must accept that the only way to break the stalemate in Parliament is to go back to the people for a definitive vote on the actual terms of a revised exit agreement". She added: "We cannot and must not risk crashing out of the EU in October."

Read more news about British business and industry.

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