The British business community has called on the government to deliver “urgent clarity” on issues that will underpin post-Brexit trade in order to accelerate business investment.
The plea has come from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which represents the interests of 75,000 businesses in the UK, who employ a total of five million people.
After the latest European Council Summit, the BCC believes not enough progress has been made and the uncertainty that firms are experiencing regarding their profits and losses is having the knock-on effect of stifling business investment.
It means the business community – headed by the BCC – is urging internal political debate to take a back seat to the trading details that businesses will use going forward.
As time ticks on the October deadline, by which the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement needs to be completed, not enough progress has been made to reassure the business community.
Assurances have been made regarding the status of EU nationals in the UK workforce, but time is of the essence to reach agreements on the list of 24 priorities compiled by the BCC.
Amongst these include whether businesses will have to pay VAT on goods at the point of import, and whether services firms need to be registered in every EU Members State where it has clients; whether or not businesses will be able to transfer staff between the UK and EU using the same processes as now; and regarding customs, will goods be subject to new procedures, and delayed at border checkpoints.
Companies in a range of industries – including construction – have voiced their concerns previously.
Now, Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, wants national economic interests to be the priority.
He said: “Businesses have every right to speak out when it is abundantly clear that the practical questions affecting the competitiveness of their firms and the livelihoods of millions of people remain unanswered. With less than nine months to go until Brexit day, we are little closer to the answers businesses need than we were the day after the referendum.
“It’s time for politicians to stop the squabbling and the Westminster point-scoring – and start putting the national economic interest first. These are not ‘siren voices’ or special interests. They are the practical, real world concerns of businesses of every size and sector, in every part of the UK.”