The winner of the general election must be in a position to publish a detailed list of Brexit negotiating priorities immediately following the vote, the Institute of Directors urged today. With the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, saying that he wants talks to begin as early as 19 June, just 11 days after general election, the political parties should already be preparing their plans, the business group said.
The EU published the mandate for the negotiations, which has been agreed by the 27 remaining members, at the beginning of May, but the major UK parties have only spoken about their ideas in broad terms in their manifestos. The IoD, which represents 30,000 business leaders, in the latest in a series of pre-election papers, called on all parties to have ready their plans for both the process, and the preferred outcome of the UK-EU talks.
In the paper, the IoD also called for the next government to:
- Help businesses prepare for Brexit by easing the costs of scenario planningThe incoming government should assist firms to identify their exposure to EU exit, and plan accordingly, through a Brexit voucher scheme, or introducing a specific tax relief to offset the costs associated with this preparation.
- Establish a joint customs committee between the UK and the EU to prevent chaos at the borderThere needs to be a smooth transition between membership of the EU customs union and a new customs agreement coming into effect. A joint committee must be set up to agree new customs procedures beforehand, to avoid massive disruption and delays for goods shipments arriving and leaving the UK.
- Agree a cut-off date for when the UK will cease to be included in trade deals currently being negotiated by the EUThe UK may well want to remain a party to trade deals already in train between third countries and the EU, but at some point will have to take sole responsibility for future agreements. Business needs to know where the line will be drawn.
Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the IoD, said:
“The talks with the EU will not be conducted in complete secrecy, there are simply too many players involved, so it would be better if the next government was as up-front as possible about what their vision of Brexit looks like. The EU has been clear about how it sees the process panning out, so after the election, whoever is in No. 10 should match this level of transparency. We believe there is enough common ground, and good will, on both sides for the talks to be constructive, but the UK side must approach negotiations in a positive fashion.
“Businesses know that no politician can promise certainty at the moment, but IoD members are looking for more specifics in areas like the future customs agreement, and whether we will continue to be part of trade deals signed by the EU in future. The sooner after the election the government can spell out their priorities, the easier it will be for companies to plan.
“Planning is not cheap of course, and one practical step the next administration could take would be to create Brexit voucher, that business could spend on working out their exposure, and what steps they could take to mitigate the risk to their supply chain.”
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