IoD: PM’s speech sets overall direction, but businesses need specifics

Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech setting out priorities for Brexit negotiations with the EU, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“This speech set out the Government’s high-level position, but needs to be followed quickly by specific objectives that match the level of detail published by the EU today. Businesses are less interested in the rhetoric that will inevitably surround the negotiations than they are with the practical implications of the Government’s approach. The UK can’t just stick to red lines, it needs to set out positive, practical steps to what it wants.

“We did get an idea of the overall direction today, although the approach suggests a swing away from prioritising close trade ties with the EU. The question for many businesses now is should they be planning to have no trade deal in place for the end of the year. The Government must set out how it intends to help smaller firms deal with changes that may come, and some form of adjustment period is crucial. While our members want to make the most of opportunities around the world, a large majority of our members have productive links with Europe, and the EU will be a crucial trading partner going forward whatever happens.

“The potential for trade barriers with the EU poses concerns for the UK’s own internal market. Firms trading between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be looking to Government for reassurance that trade across the Irish Sea will be protected. There are still many open questions about how this will be achieved.”