Article 50: National business reaction

March 29, 2017

The CBI called today’s triggering of Article 50 a “pivotal moment in country’s history” but said early wins were needed in the negotiations with the EU to keep business on side.

President Paul Drechsler said the Prime Minister’s commitment to free trade and European values should “hearten those around the table and set a constructive tone at the start of the negotiations”.

And he said now was the time to be “ambitious, level-headed and confident”, adding that it was in the interests of businesses across Europe to work together to make a success of Brexit

“Our shared aim must be to forge a mutually beneficial deal that delivers barrier-free trade and safeguards prosperity for all. The Prime Minister has recognised this,” he said.

The CBI was a staunch supporter of the ‘remain’ campaign during the referendum campaign. In a report circulated just days before the vote it claimed official Treasury figures showed staying in the EU would deepen economic ties with member states and have the potential to create 74,340 jobs in the South West.

That compared, it claimed, with a likely “economic shock” if the UK left, which it said would “pull the rug from under the local economy”.

Mr Drechsler continued today: “The first six months are crucial as the UK heads into these challenging and unprecedented negotiations. Securing some early wins is therefore vital to set us on the right path.

“Most welcome of all would be the immediate guarantee of the right to remain for EU citizens here and UK nationals in Europe, which all governments agree is desirable.

“Businesses will welcome the upfront commitment to an implementation period to rule out cliff-edges for firms on both sides of the Channel – though more detail will be needed. Meanwhile, we must work constructively to design a means to maintain some influence over regulations affecting UK businesses in our biggest market.

“And discussing new trading arrangements should go hand-in-hand with negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

“It will be important to deliver on the commitment to include the devolved nations and all regions of the UK in the discussions.”

<On the role of business, he said, it had a crucial role to play in making the economic case as the negotiations progressed “so we can be clear about the impact on real people, jobs and communities across the UK”.

He added: “We know there’ll be a lot of noise, which is why the CBI will continue to work closely with the government and our partners across Europe to ensure the economic case is heard loud and clear.”

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