PM’s Brexit Plan: Chamber Reaction

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has reacted to the Prime Minister’s Brexit Plan speech, made on Tuesday 17 Jan 2017.

Andrew Latchmore, Chair of the Brexit Advisory Group of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The Prime Minister and her Brexit team have a difficult path to walk: they are criticised for being vague and without a plan, and yet revealing one’s red lines prior to triggering Article 50 would be ruinous.  Theresa May gave a confident and reassuring message to businesses today, telling them that global trade allied with a working partnership with the EU is both do-able and beneficial to both sides of the Brexit negotiations.  This was clearly not simply a box-ticking process for the PM, yet it was good to hear phrases such as ‘open-ness to international talent’, ‘build a truly global Britain’ and to emphasise the importance of research in science and technology in the speech.

“Businesses will continue to operate to the best of their ability and do not want Brexit to become all-consuming to the point of increasing instability and nervousness; but at the same time, the negotiations, once Article 50 is triggered, cannot be ignored and may have some influence on future confidence.  The Chamber will continue to monitor developments via our Brexit Advisory Group and keep up pressure on the Government to deliver what is best for our businesses.  Members should make their views known to us and we will keep them informed of our lobbying work through the usual channels.”

Key points of the speech itself included the following

– The UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”

– The UK will push for the “freest possible trade” with European countries and to sign new deals with others around the world.

– Parliament would vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the EU.

– UK priorities include:

  • Maintaining the common travel area between the UK and Irish Republic
  • Tariff-free trade with the EU
  • A customs agreement with the EU
  • New trade agreements with countries outside the EU
  • Continued “practical” sharing of intelligence and policing information
  • “Control” of immigration rights for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU
  • A “phased approach”

Mrs May said that it was not her intention to undermine the EU but warned against a “punitive” reaction to Brexit, as it would bring “calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and it would not be the act of a friend”.