Exports chief urges ‘positive approach’ to negotiations
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has been accused of speaking “negatively” by the boss of an export trade association.
Marcus Dolman said failure to strike a deal with the EU would be the “worst case all round” but called for a “positive” approach.
It comes as business leaders are to issue a fresh warning to ministers not to jeopardise Britain’s trade with Europe through “brinksmanship” in the Brexit negotiations.
Mr Dolman, co-chairman of the British Exporters Association and an executive at Rolls-Royce, said a deal between the EU and the UK was in the “best interest” of both sides.
Asked about the Chancellor’s approach, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think he is speaking a little negatively. I think we need to positive about this.
“Businesses are resilient. They will be planning for eventualities. If there is a hard Brexit, then businesses will find a way around it.”
In a keynote address, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director-general Adam Marshall will say that any further delay in opening trade talks risks creating a “lose-lose scenario” for both sides.
His comments come as the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels draws to a close with the two sides still apparently deadlocked over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has made clear the EU is not prepared to discuss a postBrexit trade deal until there is further progress on the issues of citizens’ rights, the border with Ireland and the UK’s “divorce bill”.
Speaking at the BCC’s international trade summit in Birmingham, Mr Marshall will say that it would be “unforgivable” if the entrenched positions taken by the two sides ended up damaging their thriving trade relationship.
“I want to urge both the UK Government and the EU27 to strain every sinew to move ahead, and put trade and transition at the heart of negotiations by the end of 2017,” he will say.
“European businesses need clarity. British businesses need clarity. Third country businesses need clarity - with American, Japanese, Australian, Indian and Canadian firms pressing for this.
“Further delays to trade and transition talks would create a lose-lose scenario for everyone with a stake in the game.
“It would be unforgivable for politicians on either side of the Channel to privilege brinksmanship and disruption over thriving trade.”
Mr Marshall will also denounce the “demonisation” of business by politicians from across the political spectrum in order to boost their poll ratings.
“In recent years, an entrepreneur could be forgiven for thinking that the British political establishment had turned lock, stock and barrel against business,” he was due to say.