Business leaders bemoan wasted days of Brexit chaos

Business leaders repeated calls for an end to the uncertainty over Brexit after so many “wasted” days.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “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.

“Drift and lack of direction have real-world economic consequences, brought home to many of our communities not just by high-profile business closures, but by the quiet and growing loss of contracts, investments and jobs.

“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.”

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “This marks a sad end to the leadership of an undoubtedly committed public servant.

“After more than a thousand wasted days of Brexit chaos, the six-month extension the UK was granted to find a way out of this mess risks being squandered unless the Conservative Party gets its act together and fast.

“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. We cannot and must not risk crashing out of the EU in October.”

David Frost, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The Prime Minister’s departure was an unavoidable necessity for moving beyond the country’s political log jam.

“We hope that a new leader can find a constructive way forward to break the impasse in Parliament and deliver certainty about the UK’s terms of exit from the EU.

“Exit on WTO terms is still a very real possibility on October 31 and whether or not it happens is not entirely in UK hands.

“The Government must ensure it and business are well prepared for this situation and we remain ready to work with them on this.”

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.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “The Prime Minister could not have worked harder to deliver a Brexit deal that protects the economy. She leaves office with the respect of business.

“But her resignation must 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.

“Nation must be put ahead of party, prosperity ahead of politics. Compromise and consensus must refind 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, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “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.”

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “To borrow a phrase, nothing has changed, or at least, very little has.

“A new leader will be faced with the same political challenges and the same economic realities.

“No deal remains a significant, and growing, concern for businesses, and that cannot be wished away, whoever is in power.

“When companies and the country need serious, considered decision-making, we have pantomime instead.

“We would ask for politicians to swiftly come to a solution which provides for as smooth an exit as possible, but that feels like a vain hope at the moment.”

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