Responding to tonight’s votes in the House of Commons, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“While it is something that MPs have managed to form a majority in any vote, the path ahead is still far from clear. The Prime Minister clearly faces a difficult task in winning a compromise on the backstop. However, if the choice is between trying to change the deal and leaving without one, business will have to hope the EU can be flexible and consider whether any legal changes at all could further clarify that the backstop is not a permanent fixture.
“With 29 March still on the statute book as our point of exit, every passing day brings no-deal draws closer, and sees more firms forced into activating potentially unnecessary and costly contingency plans – many of which involve moving business out of the UK. Much more information on what would happen on day one of no deal is needed to ensure any adequate level of business readiness. We still don’t know what the UK’s applied tariffs or full changes to customs processes would be, and there is virtually no guidance on planning for firms in Northern Ireland.
“The Prime Minister’s commitment to a second Meaningful Vote in a fortnight is helpful in the face of these pressing timescales. The PM must go one step further, however, and set out now in clear terms what would happen if this second vote is lost. Business leaders need to know whether that would mark the point of no return for leaving without a deal.”