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US business giants warn May of ‘daunting’ prospect of Brexit

The Prime Minister has addressed corporate bosses in New York.

Prime Minister Theresa May at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum (Mark Lennihan/AP)
Prime Minister Theresa May at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Business leaders in New York have laid bare their fears over Brexit to Theresa May, and said they believe it could lead to the fall of her government.

The Prime Minister had taken to the stage at a gathering of powerful corporate bosses in New York to sell post-Brexit Britain as the best low-tax, high-skilled place to invest in.

But during a question and answer session after her speech, Steve Schwarzman, chief executive officer at investment firm Blackstone, said the UK’s exit from the EU was “daunting”.

He told the PM “things could really go off with a bad Brexit” and called for reassurances for the business community.

What would you do in our shoes to be planning right now? IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Mr Schwarzman said: “In terms of downside management, we actually just bought a thing in the UK last week so I guess we are believers.

“But on the other side, things could really go off with a bad Brexit and also a change of government.

“The thing that we really worry about is how bad can things get?”

He added: “We believe in the good thing. But in terms of just thinking about it from a risk management perspective it’s a little daunting for those of us on the outside.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty quizzed the PM about the risks to business of a bad Brexit.

She said: “All of us are in the business of enterprise risk management and so as we talk about Brexit.

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IBM’s Ginni Rometty with Prime Minister Theresa May (Mark Lennihan/AP)

“What would you do in our shoes to be planning right now? What would you do now to balance that risk?”

Mrs May, who is in New York for a meeting of the UN General Assembly, acknowledged there was
“uncertainty” about Brexit and admitted “we don’t know when the negotiations will end”.

But she told the Bloomberg Global Business Forum she believed the UK would secure a good deal in the negotiations with the European Union.

She said: “I absolutely appreciate and understand from that – you’re making decisions and looking ahead to what the future holds.

“And at the moment there is that uncertainty about what the future will hold in terms of Brexit.

“Just if I can say this again, we believe that we will and can get a good deal. And that’s because it’s not just about the UK, it’s about the EU as well, and I think that continued trading relationship is going to be good for both sides.

“But there are several weeks of intense work to be done in order to get to that point.”

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