Brexit: Business Leaders Call For Swift Transition Deal

Live Telegraph PMQs analysis program

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Together they represent companies employing millions of workers.

Ministers have backed a "stand still" transition where all rules stay the same for at least two years after Brexit but nothing has been agreed or signed.

While numerous sentiments in it have been expressed separately by the likes of the CBI and IoD, the letter is the first time they have issued such an explicit collective alert about Brexit threats to growth to a Cabinet minister.

The letter, originally obtained by Sky News, said: "Agreement (on a transition) is needed as soon as possible, as companies are preparing to make serious decisions at the start of 2018, which will have consequences for jobs and investment in the UK".

Concerns about the potential impact on the UK's financial services sector heightened last week when the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs tweeted that he would be spending "a lot more time" in Frankfurt after Brexit.

United Kingdom businesses are concerned that Britain's planned exit from the European Union in March 2019 could involve an abrupt change in the trade relationship with the continent or a potential no-deal scenario involving heavy tariffs on exports and imports.

After a brief digression in which he began quoting some Shakespeare, Johnson said European Union leaders needed to "grip it, get on with it and start thinking about the future".

It is time for European leaders to "get on with it" in pushing forwards on a Brexit deal, Boris Johnson has argued, while insisting he is fully behind Theresa May's strategy on the UK's departure from the EU.

It has not yet been decided if the letter should be made public or kept private, a source from within the CBI said, but it will act as preparatory draft for a meeting of business leaders with government at a Business Advisory Council on Wednesday.

The lobbying groups suggested that the Government use the transition period "to bolster our trade framework and build capacity inside the Department for International Trade", reflecting mounting anxiety about the ability of Liam Fox's ministry to strike rapid bilateral trade deals. Prime Minister May won a modest reprieve on Friday when European Union leaders signalled they were ready to move the negotiations forward in the coming months.

The business groups have been contacted for comment.

Responding to the letter, Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: "Business groups are understandably alarmed by the Government's lack of progress in the talks".

The Foreign Secretary said "now is the time to get on with it" after last week's European Council summit agreed to the 27 remaining EU members beginning internal preparations for the next phase of talks, which will cover trading arrangements and a possible transitional phase.

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