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Business leaders worried about impact of political uncertainty, poll finds

Company directors believe another election this year would have a negative impact on the UK economy.

Business leaders have voiced concern about the political uncertainty gripping the country and its impact on the economy.

The first poll of businesses since the General Election revealed a “dramatic drop” in confidence, said the Institute of Directors (IoD). Company directors see no clear way to resolve the political situation quickly and believe another election this year would have a negative impact on the UK economy.

The 700 members of the IoD who took part in the survey said they were keen to see quick agreement with the European Union on transitional arrangements surrounding the UK’s withdrawal, and clarity on the status of EU workers in the UK.

The overall priority for the new Government must be reaching a new trade deal with the European Union, the directors said.

Stephen Martin, director general of the IoD, said: “It is hard to overstate what a dramatic impact the current political uncertainty is having on business leaders, and the consequences could – if not addressed immediately – be disastrous for the UK economy.

“The needs of business and discussion of the economy were largely absent from the campaign, but this crash in confidence shows how urgently that must change in the new Government. It was disheartening that the only reference the Prime Minister made to prosperity in her Downing Street statement was to emphasise the need to share it, rather than create it in the first place.

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Stephen Martin said the PM's Downing Street statement was disheartening (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“With global headwinds and political uncertainty at the front of business leaders’ minds, it would be wise for this administration to re-emphasise its commitment to a pro-business environment here at home.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), called on the Government to “change tack” in its approach to the Brexit talks and give business a place at the negotiating table.

Writing in the Financial Times, she said: “With negotiations almost upon us, British business does not believe that we are where we need to be. The likelihood of a good deal for the UK is further away with every exchange across the Channel. That cannot be allowed to continue.”

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Carolyn Fairbairn said growth depended on the Government keeping Britain an attractive place to do business (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Fairbairn said growth and jobs depended on the Government keeping Britain an attractive place to do business.

She warned that, the less likely a deal becomes, the more investors will take their money elsewhere.

She said: “There is no question this is already beginning to bite: a gradual drip, drip, drip of lost investment and missed opportunity. For the sake of our economy and the prosperity of our regions, it is time change tack.”

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