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Dozens of business leaders demand referendum on final Brexit deal

3 min read

More than 70 business leaders have backed calls for a referendum on the final Brexit deal the UK strikes with the EU.

The bosses called on Theresa May to give voters the “ultimate choice,” as they warned that a “destructive hard Brexit” would damage the UK economy.

They made the call in a letter organised by the People's Vote campaign - which is pushing for a second referendum on quitting the bloc.

It was signed by Waterstones’ chief executive James Daunt, Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed and ex-Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King, among others.

And it warns that both a no-deal Brexit and the departure outlined by the Prime Minister in her Chequers blueprint would be bad for businesses and for the jobs market.

“The business community was promised that, if the country voted to leave, there would continue to be frictionless trade with the EU and the certainty about future relations that we need to invest for the long term," the letter, printed in the Sunday Times, reads.

"Despite the Prime Minister's best efforts, the proposals being discussed by the Government and the European Commission fall far short of this, and they are not nearly as good as the current deal we have inside the EU.

“The uncertainty over the past two years has already led to a slump in investment, which will make our country poorer."

It added: “We are now facing either a blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit. Both these options will further depress investment. They will be bad for business and bad for working people.

“Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a People's Vote.”


In a further boost for the People's Vote campaign, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged MPs to vote down whatever deal the Prime Minister brings to Parliament and to push for a second referendum instead.

Writing for the Observer he said: “There is the pointless, the painful or fudge through postponement of the core issues. Each option is bad. MPs should vote it down and give the people the final say."

Mrs May has already rejected suggestions of a final vote on the Brexit deal multiple times, saying that it would amount to a “gross betrayal of our democracy…and trust”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said: “The people of the United Kingdom have already had their say in one of the biggest democratic exercises this country has ever seen and the Prime Minister has made it clear that there is not going to be a second referendum.

“We remain confident we will agree a mutually advantageous deal with the EU that works for business and the economy."

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