The Chief Executives of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry have issued the following open letter in response to recent discussions over the EU withdrawal agreement.
Profound uncertainty has overshadowed British business activity since the 2016 Referendum. The draft Withdrawal Agreement offers some clarity and crucially a reasonable basis to move forward towards a new UK-EU trading relationship.
‘No Deal’ would be an extremely undesirable outcome for the UK and will, as most of our members tell us, have severe and detrimental impacts on their businesses and the wider national economy.
Now is not the time for grandstanding by MPs, but rather a moment to come together in the national interest.
As business knows, negotiation involves compromise to secure what one really needs above what one may want.
Parliamentarians’ focus appears to be solely on discussing what limitations are within the draft Withdrawal Agreement, yet it is only the terms of separation.
All sides in the Brexit debate agree that they want a close trading relationship with the rest of Europe and that is certainly what our members must have.
The (Article 50) Withdrawal Agreement was never designed to come up with the details of such a trading relationship. It will be the future trade deal talks with the EU that will hammer out those details and give business the firm certainty it needs.
We need to ensure that those trade deal negotiations start as soon as possible after 29 March next year.
For all its flaws, we believe the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated by the UK government is, at this late stage, the best way of achieving this crucial outcome.
It is the future trade deal that is the most important prize for us and the rest of Europe - not the Withdrawal Agreement.
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Clive Memmott, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.