IoD urges Johnson to clarify Brexit deal strategy
UK business leaders urged the government to clarify its negotiating aims for the next stage of Brexit talks so they can prepare for a new relationship with the European Union.
A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found more than 60% of businesses believe the deal with the EU was more important than a possible trade agreement with the US.
“To give businesses any chance of being ready for the new relationship by the end of 2020, the government needs to be as clear as possible about what its intended destination is,” said Allie Renison, the IoD’s head of Europe and trade policy.
“With directors clear that negotiations with the EU are the priority right now, clarity is crucial for so many companies.”
"Just calling it a free trade agreement gives no indication of the balance between alignment and divergence, which is essential for firms to do any kind of advance planning. Directors need to know what the government’s priorities for market access are for the EU."
More than half of 952 directors surveyed (55%) said they would only be able to “make planning and investment decisions” with certainty when “we understand our future with the EU”.
Business leaders also warned that Finance Minister Sajid Javid’s plans to not align with EU rules could to unwelcome friction on cross-border trade with consequences for investment, jobs and the economy.
Brussels expects to publish draft negotiating guidelines on 1 February with its goals agreed among member states at a meeting on 25 February.
European commission spokesman Eric Mamer on Monday said formal talks could start in March, maintaining that the EU's position was "not a slowing down or speeding up of the process".
“This is simply the nature of the institutional process and the consultations that need to take place before the negotiation directives can be formally adopted,” he said.