IoD: ‘Business leaders welcome more detail on Brexit, but key areas still missing’

Responding to the publication of the Government’s Brexit White Paper, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“This White Paper puts some vital meat on the bones of the Chequers plan. More specifics on its proposed customs arrangements, and its proposed free trade area in goods with the EU will be welcomed by business leaders who have delayed Brexit preparations because of a lack of detail on the future partnership. It should also give EU negotiators less scope to claim that they cannot push ahead because there is no plan from the UK. We look forward to comprehensive engagement with the Government on turning these ideas into practical realities that work for firms engaged in international trade.

“However, the Government has missed a trick by holding back on detail in several areas. Clarity about its approach to VAT arrangements, which are crucial to achieving its aim of frictionless trade with the EU, is in short supply. The paper also implies that businesses and individuals won’t have access to any new dispute resolution mechanism relating to enforcement of the agreement. Given the unprecedentedly close economic arrangement the UK is hoping for with the EU as a third country, this should be in there. The Government has provided more clarity on its approach to financial services, and we look forward to them doing the same for the rest of the services sector.

“But the biggest question mark looms over what will replace freedom of movement. The Government is right to prioritise an ambitious scheme on labour mobility with the EU, but businesses need to work from concrete proposals. We would urge the Government to bring forward its plans for post-Brexit migration, which should be at the heart of our future economic partnership with Europe.

“EU negotiators now have specific details to build upon, and we strongly urge them to respond constructively to the White Paper so that progress can be made for the benefit of both sides.”