Risk & Economy » Brexit » Business anxious after withdrawal agreement voted down

Business voices have spoken about their anxiety following the government’s loss of its key vote today.

The government lost by 344 votes to 286, a margin of 58 resulting in the UK missing an EU deadline to delay Brexit to 22 May and leave with a deal.

It means that MPs are set to vote on another series of indicative votes on various Brexit options to see if they can agree on a way forward, set for Monday and possibly Wednesday next week.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “All eyes are now on Monday to discover what Parliament is for. The UK’s reputation, people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake.

“No deal is two weeks away. This winner takes all approach means everyone loses. Indicative votes must deliver. Only MPs can end this nightmare for businesses.”

Edwin Morgan, interim director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: The Brexit merry-go-round continues to spin, but the fun stopped a long time ago. We are running out of words to express how sick business leaders are of being stuck in this spirit-sapping limbo. The inability to make any decision is doing lasting damage to enterprise.

“The Commons must come together around a realistic option on Monday. Meanwhile, as the ones who are actually negotiating with the EU, the Government must be ready to make clear its own preferred route forward. It can’t entirely absent itself from this process, even if Parliament is crucial for the next steps.”

National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Mike Cherry said: “On the day that we were supposed to be leaving the European Union, all we have is yet another political failure to chalk up.

“Responsibility for this deepening political crisis lies squarely at the feet of politicians who have clearly stopped listening to the business community. Our small businesses have been crying out about the significant damage that uncertainty is causing them. These cries have been drowned out by those seeking to play political games.

“Planning has stalled, investment is handcuffed and growth has flat-lined. The only question now is what happens next? Small businesses message is simple, stop playing politics, come together and get on with delivering a pro-business deal that secures a transition period, guarantees as frictionless trade as possible and most importantly, avoids a disastrous no deal Brexit.

“Our small firms are sick and tired of politicians debating and dithering over Brexit. They are trying to get on with their jobs and it’s time that politicians get on and do the same.”

Yesterday Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce,said: “Uncertainty is generating a growing list of business casualties and a litany of rising costs.The damage is happening right now.

He referenced examples of companies feeling the pressure from the uncertain economic environment. “To the business in the West Midlands mothballing its flagship project and putting assets up for sale because its investors want to move their money, and I quote, “to a more stable country”.

“To the Westcountry companies racing against time to move their products across borders to avoid no-deal tariffs that would wipe out their margins.

“To the business in North East England that has lost its biggest customer due to Brexit uncertainty, and with it over a quarter of its turnover..And the agri-food companies in Northern Ireland shifting operations across the border to avoid extreme fluctuations in costs.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg – but they are living proof that the UK’s political impasse is having real-world consequences.

Following today’s defeat of the withdrawal agreement the Brexit agenda will see next week’s indicative votes followed by an Emergency summit of EU leaders to consider any UK request for further extension on April 10

Friday, 12 April will be Brexit day, if UK does not seek/EU does not grant further delay, otherwise European Parliamentary elections will be held between 23 and 26 May.