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Put the economy first on Brexit say leading business groups

 

The Government is being urged to put the economy first and secure a transitional Brexit deal with the EU to ensure tariff-free access to European markets.

A letter signed by the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturing group the EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors also calls for an early deal to secure the rights of EU citizens living and working in Britain to stay after Brexit.

The plea came as Government Brexit secretary David Davis opened the long awaited negotiations with the EU.

Closer to home the letter has also been backed by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce whose chief executive Corin Crane said:”This letter is a clear demonstration that businesses from across the country, of every shape and size need a clear, sensible and positive approach to the Brexit negotiations. Beyond the politics, we need to put the economy first. Our businesses want flexibility across borders and continued joint working with our European partners to allow our goods, people and services to move as easily as possible.

“At the Black Country Chamber we echo the sentiments in this letter and plea for a respectful and positive period of negotiations that puts our businesses and citizens above politics.”

Brexit secretary David Davis

The letter, from groups representing hundreds of thousands of businesses, is the latest evidence of efforts to steer the Government away from the ‘hard Brexit’ which they fear will harm the economy, see prices rise and jobs losts.

EEF interim Midlands director Charlotte Horobin said: “Government needs a rethink which puts access to the single market and a form of customs union at the heart of a revised strategy. With less than two years to negotiate a meaningful deal, the Government should also commit to a significant period of transition to manage uncertainty for businesses and bolster confidence.

“Business groups can help with the negotiations over trade, which is the model every other Government involved in trade negotiations operates, and we need to be brought in quickly to do this. We need to build a political consensus based on our collective national interest.”

The letter also calls for a “frictionless” open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The letter said: “The business community fully accepts the decision of voters last June that the UK will leave the European Union.

“We have come together to urge the Government to put the economy first as it prepares to start formal negotiations on the UK’s departure from the European Union.

“This is a deal that when finally agreed will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK.

“A deal that supports growth will allow companies to hire more people, raise living standards and improve lives across the country.”

The final trade deal with the EU should ensure tariff-free goods trade between the UK and the bloc, the letter says, as well as minimal customs checks and a “flexible system for the movement of labour and skills” that enjoys a public support.

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