IoD calls on Government to publish Brexit negotiating objectives

The IoD is calling on Government to publish its negotiating objectives as we move to the next stage of Brexit talks, as new survey data finds a majority of its members don’t think the withdrawal agreement provides enough certainty to unlock business investment.

Despite overall confidence numbers improving substantially in this post-election survey, 55% of respondents said they could only make planning and investment decisions with certainty once they understood what the UK’s future relationship with the EU would look like, compared with 35% who felt the current withdrawal deal gave enough certainty. 

Directors polled were also three times more likely to view negotiations with the EU as the current priority over striking new trade deals in other parts of the world.

Publishing negotiating objectives would help to mitigate the uncertainty facing businesses, allowing them to try to prepare for the changes that may come at the end of the year. 

Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy, said:

“To put in place their investments, many of our members need to work from a clearer framework on our post-Brexit relationship with the EU. The withdrawal agreement provides clarity for the next 12 months and no further – enough for some organisations but not for those trying to take long-term decisions.

“To give businesses any chance of being ready for the new relationship by the end of 2020, the Government needs to be as clear as possible about what its intended destination is. With directors clear that negotiations with the EU are the priority right now, clarity is crucial for so many companies. Just calling it a free trade agreement gives no indication of the balance between alignment and divergence, which is essential for firms to do any kind of advance planning. Directors need to know what the Government’s priorities for market access are for the EU.

“The implications of the withdrawal agreement could be profound for internal UK goods trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and they rest largely on this next phase of talks with the EU. Particularly for firms that rely on trade across the Irish Sea, there simply must be an adjustment period once the new deal is struck.”