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Thursday, September 07, 2017

UK Government isolated by business snub

The UK Government and their Labour backers may well think that that they are doing the right thing in pursuing a hard Brexit, with or without a transition period, but that self-belief does not appear to be shared by business.

The Independent says that Theresa May has been accused of an embarrassing own-goal after business leaders refused a plea to publicly declare their support for her Brexit strategy. They add that a letter, asking top companies to say they “welcome” the Government’s bid for a transitional deal, to cushion the exit was leaked to Sky News, apparently, after some refused to sign it.

They were also asked to agree that the legislation before Parliament to prepare for withdrawal would “make Britain ready for life outside the EU”. But some of the companies expressed astonishment at Downing Street’s attempt to win their backing after the Brussels negotiations hit a damaging impasse.

The Government was further embarrassed by business leaders publicly attacking proposed curbs on immigration after Brexit, warning they would badly damage the economy:

The Independent understands that several large UK corporations received an approach from Downing Street earlier this week, with No 10 saying the initiative was being targeted at large private companies and FTSE 100 firms “with an emphasis on quality not quantity”.

Downing Street also intimated that it already had around ten firms committed to endorsing it.

One source at an FTSE 100 firm which had been sent the letter but had declined to sign said that his counterparts from energy, manufacturing, banking and financial services firms had all also turned down the opportunity.

“I’d be very surprised if that letter sees the light of day now,” the source said.

The Independent understands that many companies that were reticent about signing the letter anyway were further deterred by the leaked Home Office document on Tuesday afternoon, mooting the possibility of downgrading the status of EU migrants in the UK as soon as March 2019, would have certainly scared firms off because it conflicted with the promise of a smooth Brexit transition period.

“That's a red line for many businesses,” the source said.

This is not going to end well.
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