Business leaders call for a Brexit transition of up to 3 years

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A letter from 100 members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to make greater and faster progress on the ongoing Brexit negotiations with the European Union. Collectively the signatories claim to be responsible for 500k UK and 600k EU jobs.

The main concern is uncertainty. Whilst they don’t take any particular position on free movement of people, the customs union or the rights of EU citizens already resident in the UK, they do request clarity and certainty to enable them to plan.

Find the letter here. And it reads: “Our businesses need to make decisions now about investment and employment that will affect economic growth and jobs in the future. Continuing uncertainty will adversely affect communities, employees, firms and our nations in the future. Businesses across the EU and UK are clear: being able to plan for a transition of up to 3 years that avoids a cliff edge is critical for our collective prosperity.”

The most striking aspects of the letter are its conciliatory tone, it doesn’t seek to obstruct Brexit and also seeks partnership and consultation with the government. And it’s a sober-minded message that will resonate with many businesses.

It’s 15 months or so since the referendum and nearly 6 since Article 50 was triggered signalling the official intention to leave the EU and it’s hard to divine any real concrete progress or clarity on the key terms of Brexit will be.

That’s hardly a surprise when the complexities are considered, and the very tight timetable, but equally these are important issues that, as the signatories note, need clarification for future planning as a matter of some urgency. It does seem that the scale of the task means that a proper transition period is now inevitable and the consensus seems to be that that should last two or three years. Hopefully we’ll learn more in the next few weeks.


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