- Huw Hughes |
British business leaders have criticised the ‘Plan B’ speech that Theresa May gave in parliament, saying that it offers nothing new to her Brexit deal, and does little to break the parliamentary deadlock.
Theresa May was obliged to deliver a ‘Plan B’ statement to MPs under the EU Withdrawal Act following the landslide 432 to 202 vote defeat of her Brexit deal last week - the largest government defeat in history.
“This is another bleak day for business,” Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said in a statement on Monday. “While the Government’s move to consult more widely is welcome, as is the commitment to scrap the settled status charge for EU citizens, the fundamentals have not changed. Parliament remains in deadlock while the slope to a cliff edge steepens.”
In her ‘Plan B’ statement, the PM said she would be seeking more changes from the EU to the Irish backstop - the measure to insure that there will be no hard border enforced between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Despite her reassurance, however, concern is building over the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit which would see all existing trade deals disappearing and would potentially force companies to pay to trade with the EU.
'Another bleak day for business'
The UK’s retail and fashion industry would be particularly hard hit by such a deal - or lack of one - with added tariffs dealing yet another blow to already difficult retail conditions. Last week, the British Fashion Council voiced its concern about a no-deal outcome in a statement, urging for it to be “avoided at all costs”.
Fairbairn continued: “The Government should accept that no deal in March 2019 must be off the table. Politicians on both sides of the Commons need to step back from their increasingly entrenched positions.
“It is vital they focus on three key principles: a deal that commands consensus in Parliament, can be negotiated with the EU and protects livelihoods in communities across the UK. There must be a new cross-party approach, where leaders compromise and find a path that safeguards the economy.”
MPs are set to vote on May's proposed next steps on Brexit on 29 January.
Photo credit: Pexels, Dominika Gregušová