Brexit: Business lobby groups call for transition deal clarity

Britain’s five biggest business lobby groups are calling for an urgent Brexit transition deal, or, they warn, the UK risks losing jobs and investment.

In a joint letter being sent to Brexit Secretary David Davis, the groups, including the Institute of Directors and CBI, will say time is running out.

A government spokesman said the talks were “making real, tangible progress”.

Sources told the BBC the letter is still being finalised but is likely to be sent on Monday.

The other lobby groups backing the letter are the British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the EEF manufacturing body

More concessions

There has been a growing anxiety among businesses at what they see as a lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations.

One of the five groups – which together represent firms employing millions of people – told the BBC it was felt a joint letter would “emphasise our wish for a deal and clarity”.

They say it is important that the Brexit transition period matches as closely as possible current trading arrangements with the EU.

Theresa May has suggested a period of about two years, with the UK and EU trading on broadly similar terms to now and payments to Brussels to meet Britain’s budget commitments.

But although EU negotiators have agreed to start preliminary work on a future relationship, they still want more concessions on the UK’s so-called “divorce payment” before starting talks on trade and transition.

London skyline

Sky News and the Guardian reported they had seen the draft letter, which says an 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”.

The letter reportedly adds: “It is vital that companies only have to undertake one adjustment as a result of the UK’s withdrawal, not two.”

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