IoD calls on MPs to listen to businesses

The Institute of Directors is today [Wednesday] calling on politicians of all parties to listen to the voice of businesses as they make vital decisions on the path ahead for Brexit.

Companies know best how they will be affected by different Brexit outcomes, the IoD said, publishing a new survey of 1,400 business leaders, in which 6 in 10 wanted the UK to follow Single Market rules on both goods and services in order to ensure frictionless trade with the EU. A majority of IoD members also supported the UK aligning its tariffs with the EU, although by a smaller proportion. When asked in a previous survey, by a margin of two-thirds to one-third, IoD members favoured remaining in the Single Market after Brexit.

Edwin Morgan, Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“Businesses were told that by now a Brexit transition period would have been secured and we would have moved on to discussing our future relationship with the EU. That we have got to this late stage with so little to show for it is the cause of deep frustration and anger among companies.

“The decisions that Parliament faces this week cannot be ducked. There are no simple choices, only trade-offs. Conflicting views among MPs are understandable, and business does not have a unanimous view either, but now is the moment to accept that every course of action creates both risks and opportunities. When our political leaders convene in Westminster today, they must be prepared to compromise. While our members may be split on the question of another referendum, the preference for alignment to secure continued access after Brexit is clearer to see.

“Politicians who claim to prioritise the UK’s future economic success must take account of the views of business leaders, who understand better than anyone the impact of the changes that are coming to our relationship with our largest trading partner.”

With uncertainty lingering over the length of any extension period, the IoD also published figures showing businesses are split on the matter, with 50% favouring a shorter extension of up to three months, against 40% who backed a longer period of at least nine months.

On Article 50 extension, Morgan added:

“While avoiding a no-deal Brexit has been the priority for most of our members, extension isn’t an end in itself. Last week’s agreement at the European Council only provided the tiniest bit of breathing room, not much else. Depending on what happens in Parliament this week, the Government must make clear exactly how they intend to use an extension period to secure a smooth Brexit, and set us on the path towards a productive partnership with the EU.”