Call for unity around plan
IoD urges ministers to agree Brexit transition
UK government ministers have been urged to unite around their Brexit plan and decide what they want from a deal with the EU.
The Institute of Directors says ministers differ on a range of issues such as trade and immigration, while the overall strategy remains unclear.
Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the IoD, said business wants a transitional agreement to ensure a “smooth and orderly Brexit…to minimise the growing level of confusion and uncertainty”.
Without such an agreement business faces “short-term chaotic cliff edges”, it said.
Fundamentally, the IoD wants ministers to bring a halt to feuding and settle on a single plan.
Chancellor Philip Hammond warned in June: “There is a large amount of business investment that is being postponed until business can see more clearly what the likely outcome of these discussions is.”
He has called for a stable period of up to three years in which the UK’s relationship with the EU should be “similar in many ways” to what it is now.
His gradualist approach is backed by Cabinet members such as Amber Rudd and Damian Green.
Supporters of a hard Brexit are concerned that watering down Britain’s demands would result in an outcome that is too similar to EU membership.
International trade secretary, Liam Fox, warned last week that “control of our own borders” was one of the key motivations behind the leave vote and allowing continued free movement would “not keep faith with that decision”.
In a report published today Bridging the Brexit Gap: Options for Transition, the IoD has proposed a number of options for a managed exit including an extension to the two-year negotiating period and seeking membership of the European Economic Area.
Joining the EEA would provide more flexibility over implementing EU law, though it could be difficult to achieve by the March 2019 deadline, says the group.
“Instead of dancing around the edges, this issue must become a policy discussion for the Cabinet,” it said.
“The sooner both the UK Government and EU accept the need to engage on this area, the easier it becomes to achieve a smooth and orderly exit.”