Brexit is turning Britain into a laughing stock, says Siemens UK boss

Wednesday 03rd April 2019 05:40 EDT

UK chief executive of German manufacturing group Siemens, Jürgen Maier has said Brexit is making Britain an international "laughing stock". He also urged MPs to pursue a softer withdrawal from the EU. Maier said Britain was wrecking its reputation for business stability, putting investment in the country at risk and threatening the economy. A no-deal Brexit would inflict further damage, he said, as he asked MPs to reach a consensus and back a customs union with the EU.

In an open letter to MPs published by Politico, Maier said, "The world is watching, and where the UK used to be beacon for stability, we are now becoming a laughing stock. Enough is enough. We are all running out of patience. Make a decision and unite around a customs union compromise that delivers economic security and stability." The head of Siemens UK, one of the biggest industrial firms in the country, said political turmoil over Brexit was making it harder for him to win support for British investment from the firm's managing board in Germany.

 The warning came after official figures showed business investment slumped last year, declining in every quarter for the first time since the last recession in 2008, as companies put spending decisions on hold due to the lack of clarity over the UK's future trading relationship with the EU.

Maier had previously said Seimens UK was ramping up stocks of critical supplies because of Brexit, stocking more components required for machines used to keep the country running, including on infrastructure such as railways and food processing. The Anglo-Austrian businessman has created quite a reputation as outspoken captains of industry in Britain. He had campaigned to remain in EU before the referendum but backed the PM's deal, saying it would provide certainty for businesses and avoid the UK crashing out without an agreement. He now said the current approach had failed and called on the government to compromise with MPs.

Maier said he believed a majority would most likely be found through a UK-EU customs union, which was among the options closest to winning support last week when MPs voted on eight separate proposals for breaking the impasse.

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