Fearful businesses demand action and clarity from the government after Brexit vote defeat

WORRIED business leaders have demanded action and clarity from the government after Theresa May suffered a crushing defeat to her Brexit deal last night.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:15 pm
Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce's executive chairman,has expressed his concerns following last night's Brexit vote defeat for prime minister Theresa May.

Traders and firms across Hampshire are preparing to ‘batten down the hatches’ in the anticipation of a 'messy’ Brexit following the prime minister's unprecedented loss in parliament.

Ross McNally, executive chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, is charged with looking out for the interests of hundreds of businesses across the area.

He said last night’s result was just adding to more ‘uncertainty’, which was causing businesses to put a freeze on recruitment and investment.

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Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce's executive chairman,has expressed his concerns following last night's Brexit vote defeat for prime minister Theresa May.

Speaking moments after the ‘meaningful vote’ on the PM’s Brexit, Mr McNally said: ‘Firms in Hampshire and across the UK deserve clarity on the specific terms of trade they will face in future, both with Europe and further afield.

‘Sadly, uncertainty continues. Now the prime minister’s deal has been rejected, we need to start looking at all the options available to the UK to avoid a messy scenario. It is crucial that Westminster delivers an agreement that works for UK businesses.

‘There is no appetite among the business community for a messy and disorderly Brexit – businesses are frustrated by the delays. The prospect of leaving the EU on March 29 without a deal leads to many businesses taking action – such as pausing on recruitment and investment, stockpiling goods, and opening new operations.

‘This is not helpful if these prove unnecessary. Firms spending money that could be better spent elsewhere, or battening down the hatches, to try and anticipate an unclear future is wasteful and a distraction.’

The business chief said Britain needed to dodge a ‘messy and disorderly' Brexit and stressed that getting ‘clarity and precision' on certain area like migration and customs was ‘vital’.

Firms wanted this chapter of Brexit to ‘come to a conclusion’, said Mr McNally who demanded the government acted ‘decisively’ on areas within its control.

He said: ‘Firms are in the dark on too many aspects of life after March 29. Neither government nor business is prepared for the consequences of a no deal.

‘Our priority at Hampshire Chamber is to continue working with our members and the wider business community to lobby for certainty so business investment and confidence can return or be maintained.’

There are just 72 days remaining until Britain is due to leave the EU.

The current state of the negotiation process has not just worried business bosses but union leaders too.

A spokesman for the Prospect union, which has workers based across Hampshire, said the ‘first priority’ of MPs must be to ‘secure an extension of Article 50’ – giving Britain more time to negotiate Brexit and dodge a no-deal scenario come March.

While Unison’s general secretary Dave Prentis said the country had ‘no faith’ in the PM to deliver her vision of Brexit and demanded a general election to vote in a new government to get Britain out of ‘this unholy mess’.