Get busy or jobs will go, May told
EUROPEAN business leaders warned Theresa May that jobs and investment in the UK could be lost unless urgent progress is made in the Brexit talks.
The Prime Minister was told that businesses are “extremely concerned” at the slow pace of negotiations with Brussels and it was vital that trade talks were given the green light in December’s summit of EU leaders.
Mrs May was also urged to keep the UK within the customs union and single market in a transitional arrangement after the formal split from Brussels in March 2019 – and to secure agreement on that by Christmas.
The Prime Minister told the gathering of business leaders from across the EU that she wanted to agree an implementation period “as soon as possible”.
Emma Marcegaglia, president of the lobbying group BusinessEurope, said: “Business is extremely concerned with the slow pace of negotiations and the lack of progress only one month before the decisive December European Council.”
After the meeting in Downing Street she said: “We don’t want uncertainty, we are very concerned. We know that if companies don’t see certainty probably they will have a contingency plan and probably they will leave the UK, or they will invest less.”
Ms Marcegaglia said both the UK and Brussels had to work to secure a deal.
“My view is that they both have to work more,” she said, but because it was the UK’s decision to leave, it was for Mrs May to put a “real, concrete proposal” on the table.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as well as organisations from Germany, France and other EU nations were present at the talks with Mrs May, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
Meanwhile, Mr Davis has announced that MPs will be given a take it or leave it vote on any Brexit deal covering citizens rights, the so-called divorce bill and a transition period.
The Brexit Secretary said any withdrawal agreement the Government reaches with the EU will only hold if MPs and peers approve a new piece of legislation to put it into British law.
But he also confirmed that if the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill is voted down by MPs, the UK will still leave the EU on March 29 2019, without a deal.
The move was seen as an attempted concession to Tory rebels ahead of votes this week on the separate EU (Withdrawal) Bill, also known as the repeal bill, with the Government facing potential defeat on plans to guarantee MPs a “meaningful vote” on the deal. But it triggered an immediate backlash from potential Tory rebels.
Heidi Allen said Mr Davis’s attempt at a concession was “pointless” as the Government is trying to amend the Withdrawal Bill to say Britain’s membership of the EU will formally end at 11pm GMT on March 29 2019.