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Business leaders express despair at ‘deepening’ Brexit crisis

The nightmare of no deal is more likely, a business leader warned.

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Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during the Brexit debate (Commons/PA)

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during the Brexit debate (Commons/PA)

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during the Brexit debate (Commons/PA)

Business leaders have expressed despair at the continued Brexit uncertainty, accusing politicians of creating a “deepening crisis”.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Business is devastated that after two years of negotiations, months of increasing uncertainty and weeks of building frustration, after three attempts the withdrawal deal has not been agreed by the House of Commons.

“This now makes the nightmare of a ‘no-deal’ scenario more likely than ever. This would be a disaster for the UK economy as a whole and for the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs around the UK.

“Every day, companies are losing contracts with investment falling and companies voting with their feet and walking away from Britain as a place to do business.

“Our global reputation was already tarnished, we end the week with it in tatters.”

Our small firms are sick and tired of politicians debating and dithering over Brexit Mike Cherry

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “On the day that we were supposed to be leaving the European Union, all we have is yet another political failure to chalk up.

“Responsibility for this deepening political crisis lies squarely at the feet of politicians who have clearly stopped listening to the business community.

“Our small businesses have been crying out about the significant damage that uncertainty is causing them. These cries have been drowned out by those seeking to play political games.

“Planning has stalled, investment is handcuffed and growth has flatlined. The only question now is what happens next? Small businesses’ message is simple, stop playing politics, come together and get on with delivering a pro-business deal that secures a transition period, guarantees as much frictionless trade as possible and most importantly, avoids a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

“Our small firms are sick and tired of politicians debating and dithering over Brexit.”

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace trade body ADS, said: “The continued confusion in Government and Parliament has gone on for far too long and is costing industry millions of pounds in lost investment and preparations for the worst outcome of no deal.

“If there is still not sufficient support for the deal agreed between the UK Government and the European Union, we must pause and reset this process.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “There are still options open to MPs and they must get behind one of them. The country needs certainty and a legal guarantee against the chaos that will inevitably result from no deal.

“Businesses are paying the price of the political uncertainty. Time and money is being spent, irrecoverably, preparing for a no-deal scenario that most people, businesses and politicians do not want to see.”

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Josh Hardie says ‘livelihoods are at stake’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Josh Hardie says ‘livelihoods are at stake’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Josh Hardie says ‘livelihoods are at stake’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the CBI, said: “All eyes are now on Monday to discover what Parliament is for. The UK’s reputation, people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake.

“No deal is two weeks away. This winner takes all approach means everyone loses. Indicative votes must deliver. Only MPs can end this nightmare for businesses.”

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “The Brexit merry-go-round continues to spin, but the fun stopped a long time ago.

“We are running out of words to express how sick business leaders are of being stuck in this spirit-sapping limbo. The inability to make any decision is doing lasting damage to enterprise.”

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “After today’s vote, Parliament must lead us out of our current shambles.

“It is time to press the reset button and seek a long extension to our EU exit.

“Business – particularly food and drink – requires a stable operating environment and a clear path forward.”

PA