Business leaders react to result of second Brexit meaningful vote

March 13, 2019

On Tuesday night (March 12), MPs once again rejected the deal negotiated by Theresa May, this time by a majority of 149.

With time running out to get through the necessary legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit, it appears that business leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of certainty at such at a crucial time.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said:

“Enough is enough. This must be the last day of failed politics.

“A new approach is needed by all parties. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.

“Extending Article 50 to close the door on a March no-deal is now urgent. It should be as short as realistically possible and backed by a clear plan.

“Conservatives must consign their red lines to history, while Labour must come to the table with a genuine commitment to solutions.

“It’s time for Parliament to stop this circus.”

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), also had strong words on the issue:

“Businesses have warned time and again that the United Kingdom is not ready to face the consequences of a messy and disorderly exit from the European Union.

“Government agencies are not ready, many businesses are not ready, and despite two and a half years passing since the referendum, there is no clear plan to support communities at the sharp end of such an abrupt change.

“Businesses have been failed over and over again by Westminster in recent months, but allowing a messy and disorderly exit on March 29 would take political negligence to new extremes.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB added: “Political games have dominated Westminster for far too long and this defeat simply extends the political paralysis that is bringing us perilously close to the cliff edge.

“A last minute no deal Brexit would be disastrous for our small firms who will be faced with supply chain disruptions, customs chaos, loss of tariff free trade and easy access to crucial markets. This reality has become more likely after tonight.

“Small firms want all MPs to think long and hard about the impact it will have on these firms as they have the chance to vote against a no deal happening on 29 March.

“Small businesses need politicians to stop playing games, come together and try to find a credible route out of this mess. Pragmatism from everyone is long overdue – we need a solution that protects businesses, communities and the economy and we need it now.”

Jonathan Walker, Assistant Director of Policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce, also provided a regional perspective to Tuesday night’s result.

He said: “The ongoing chaos in Parliament does little to reassure or provide stability for businesses. With now just 16 days to go until March 29 there is no time left for businesses to prepare.

“This uncertainty is sapping business confidence and affecting investment. Government must show it is listening to the valid concerns of business by taking no deal off the table, extending Article 50 and securing a relationship with the EU that protects our firms’ ability to trade with our biggest market.”

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