More than a hundred UK businesses – ranging from soups to technology – have written a letter to the PM warning of how “hugely damaging” it would be to the economy should the UK not agree a deal with the EU before the end of the transition period.
The UK left the EU on 31 January this year but is continuing to trade under EU rules until 31 December 2020 while a trade deal is being negotiated.
It had been hoped that the current round of intensive talks – which began this week – would bring a breakthrough, with both sides expressing optimism last week.
However, the familiar stumbling blocks of level playing field rules and a renewed dispute about City of London access to European financial markets have dented this optimism.
‘No time to prepare’
The letter, reported in the FT this morning (1 July), was signed by companies and entrepreneurs with significant experience trading with the EU and is thought to be one of the first cross-industry efforts since the COVID-19 pandemic began to put pressure on the government to reach a deal.
The group of company chiefs signing the letter is diverse, including Zoopla, New Covent Garden Soup, nano-materials tech company Graphene Composites and Siemens UK.
The letter said a failure to secure a deal would result “in more people out of work and lower living standards”.
It said businesses “simply do not have time or capacity to prepare for big changes in trading rules by the end of the year — especially given that we are already grappling with the upheaval caused by coronavirus”.
Good deal promise
The letter clarifies that it does not want to reopen disputes with the government over whether Brexit should happen, the UK having now left the EU.
“This is not a call to reopen old divisions about remaining or leaving,” said former Siemens UK chief executive Jürgen Maier, one of the letter’s writers.
“The government must now deliver for us all, and on their promise to get a good deal, not a bad deal, and definitely not a no-deal.”