Business leaders urge MPs to back May's Brexit deal

Thursday 03rd January 2019 02:00 EST

Entrepreneurs have asked politicians to put aside career ambitions and support Theresa May's Brexit agreement to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal. With the political turmoil intensifying in Westminster, several high-profile figures in the corporate world have urged MPs to back the draft agreement. Warren East, chief executive of Rolls Royce said, “We are slightly running out of time and I would, as a business leader, like to see politicians on both sides of the fence get on and negotiate a practical deal that works for business. We're essentially (still) having a discussion we could have had the morning after the referendum.”

He said any Brexit agreement would be better than no deal at all. UK chief executive of Siemens, Jürgen Maier mirrored the feelings and said, “My gut feeling is we need to get behind it and we need to make this deal work.” Iceland Foods' managing director Richard Walker said there was “no other option” but for MPs to agree on the draft deal. He said, “Parliamentarians have got to put aside ideologies, and definitely career ambitions, and think very carefully about delivering on the deal we have. Every deal requires concessions on both sides. We voted to leave and this proposal regains as much control as we can expect whilst still keeping us open for business with our biggest trading partner. Moreover, it delivers a clear path ahead that business so desperately needs.”

However, the Institute of Directors (IOD) said more detail was needed for firms to assess how they will be impacted. IOD director Stephen Martin urged ministers to think “long and hard” about how they react to the first-stage agreement. He said, “Leaving the EU without a deal is a very bad outcome for businesses, workers and consumers, and this is simply an inherent risk that comes with voting down any withdrawal deal.” He said the IOD was “heartened” to see that provision had been made to extend the transition period.

Meanwhile Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said the political uncertainty would harm UK consumers. She said, “Until a withdrawal agreement is approved by both parliament and EU member states, we have continuing uncertainty and the risk remains of consumers facing higher prices and reduced availability of products in March 2019.” Andrew Gray, head of Brexit at PwC said firms needed to be ready for all eventualities. “We still urge business to continue preparing for both a deal and no deal scenario until the deal is ratified.”

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