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As protestors hit the streets...

Brexit now hitting investment as firms run out of patience

Brexit protest Oct 19

People’s protest: thousands poured on to the streets of London calling for a second referendum (BBC)


Investment decisions are now being axed by businesses who have run out of patience over the lack of progress on the Brexit talks, the CBI reveals today.

The business lobby group says one in five firms report that they have reached the ‘point of no return’ on implementing a contingency plan, including job cuts, shifting supply chains outside the UK, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services overseas.

Its findings coincide with a massive demonstration in London calling for a second referendum on Brexit amid growing public anger over the slow pace of the talks just months before Britain is due to leave the EU.

Supporters said the rally attracted 700,000 from all over the country, although Scotland Yard said it was impossible to accurately assess the numbers.

A number of MPs joined the rally calling for a fresh vote which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May. Celebrity speakers included the comedian Steve Coogan, cook Delia Smith and Dragons’ Den panelist Deborah Meaden.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale joined the march and said: “As every day goes by, the harsh reality of a hard Brexit becomes clearer and support for a People’s Vote continues to grow. Brexit is not inevitable – it’s time to ask the voters if this is what they really want and give the people of the UK the opportunity to remain in the EU.”

The CBI said firms were becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of clarity and were now being forced to take action.A pro-Brexit rally took place in Harrogate, organised by the group Leave Means Leave and led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

In a survey, eight out of ten firms said Brexit has had a negative effect on investment decisions.

Carolyn Fairbairn

Carolyn Fairbairn: ‘Uncertainty is draining investment from the UK’


Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, warned: “The situation is now urgent. The speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground.

“Unless a Withdrawal Agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans. Jobs will be lost and supply chains moved.

“The knock-on effect for the UK economy would be significant. Living standards would be affected and less money would be available for vital public services including schools, hospitals and housing.

“Uncertainty is draining investment from the UK, with Brexit having a negative impact on 8 in 10 businesses. From a multinational plastics manufacturer which has cancelled a £7 million investment, to a fashion house shelving £50 million plans for a new UK factory, these are grave losses to our economy.

“Many firms won’t publicise these decisions, yet their impact will show in lower GDP years down the line.

“As long as ‘no deal’ remains a possibility, the effect is corrosive for the UK economy, jobs and communities. 

“Businesses have displayed remarkable resilience since the Referendum, but patience is now threadbare. Negotiators must secure the Withdrawal Agreement before December to unlock a transition period. The message to politicians on all sides is: ‘your actions will echo through generations’.”

The survey was carried out between 19 September and 8 October.

‘Large companies’ denotes those with more than 500 employees. ‘SMEs’ denotes those with 1-500 employees.

Comment: May must pay heed to calls for Brexit rethink

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