A sign of Brexit progress - at last
The Prime Minister’s draft Withdrawal Agreement means businesses finally have an opportunity to see an outline of what our future trading relationship with the European Union might look like.
Our members have been desperate for this stage of the negotiations to reach a conclusion. This is the first sign of clear, definitive progress - and it’s not before time.
The message from our members is clear, they urgently want to see the UK get a withdrawal deal across the line.
This week the IoD released the results of the first poll of business leaders since the draft agreement and it reveals that directors want to see a deal approved.
In the survey of more than 800 members, three quarters said it was important that a withdrawal agreement is ratified before the UK leaves the EU, allowing for a transition period after March 2019.
Two-thirds said a no deal outcome would be bad for their business, with almost half saying this scenario would be ‘very negative’ for their organisation. Only 13% said a no-deal Brexit would be positive.
Members were split on the question of whether a second referendum would be in their interests, with 46% for and 44% against.
As our director general Stephen Martin pointed out, firms large and small are deeply concerned by the potential for a no-deal scenario. Business investment is already being choked by uncertainty.
He said politicians should think long and hard about how they react to this agreement: “The need to avoid no deal must be at the forefront of MPs’ minds when they come to vote on the agreement. The deal we have might not satisfy everyone, but this is still the clearest route to securing a smooth exit.”
He added: “A second referendum is not an easy way out of the political bind we are in, with business opinion split on whether it would be a good idea now. The view of our members is that a withdrawal deal has to be the priority."
While the survey gives us an insight into what businesses are thinking, we need to keep the discussion going. Next Friday (30 November) Edwin Morgan, IoD Director of Policy, will be in Leeds for our IoD West Yorkshire Festive Leaders’ Lunch at The Mansion in Roundhay Park. We want to hear your views and take them back to the heart of Whitehall. A few tickets are left and Yorkshire Post readers can take advantage of a special rate of just £30.
If you can’t join us, on 7 February we will return to The Mansion for a Leaders' Lunch with Allie Renison, IoD Head of Europe and Trade Policy.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your place at either event. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing more progress from the Government on a Brexit deal that lays the foundation for investment and job creation.
Natalie Sykes, Regional Director IoD Yorkshire & North East