Business leaders welcome Chequers deal

Posted On: 
7th July 2018

Senior business leaders issued a cautious welcome to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, praising the Government for presenting a “united front”.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said that the Chequers agreement would mean "zero friction" for UK-EU trade
Credit: 
PA Images

Senior business leaders issued a cautious welcome to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, praising the Government for presenting a “united front”. 

Both the CBI and the Institute of Directors said that business would welcome the proposals, saying that the Prime Minister deserved credit for unifying the Cabinet. 

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Shortly before 9pm on Friday night, May’s divided Cabinet reached an agreement which would see the UK effectively remain in the EU single market for goods, but not for services. 

The arrangement would also see the UK collect tariffs on goods destined for the bloc on the EU’s behalf. 

Calling the agreement a “genuine confidence boost’” CBI director Carolyn Fairburn said that the Prime Minister appeared to have listened to business. 

“That is good news – particularly the free trade area for goods, which the CBI and its members have long called for.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark, who was at the Chequers summit, tweeted that the free trade area for goods would allow businesses and supply chains to continue operating after Brexit.

However, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, praised the Cabinet’s ‘united front’, but cautioned that the Chequers deal was only the beginning of the negotiating process.

“There is still much work done to reach agreement with the European Union. Time is still very much of the essence.”

“The more clarity we have on the future trading relationship, the easier it will be for business to plan ahead. We hope today will turn quickly into progress in negotiations, and clarity for business on the path ahead.”  

Some pro-remain figures were more critical of the accord. Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal, told the BBC that the deal was a ‘behind-closed-doors stitch-up’ that did not resolve any of the fundamental problems created by Brexit.

“This only confirms how important it is that we have a People’s Vote on whatever botched Brexit deal the government comes up with,’ he said, ‘so the people of this country can decide whether or not it’s good enough.” 

Leavers advocating a hard Brexit reacted with dismay to the agreement. Leave Means Leave, a pressure group campaigning for a ‘clean Brexit’, said that the deal would see the UK cede ever greater ground to the EU and accused the Prime Minister of misleading the electorate. 

“May’s Brexit means BRINO - ‘Brexit in Name Only’ - a fake Brexit.” 

“Now we are faced with becoming a vassal state of the German/French racket, they have us exactly where they want us – unable to compete, taking enormous quantities of their products at inflated prices, protected from global competition by the fortress Europe tariff and regulatory wall, and impeded from doing trade deals around the globe.“

Michel Barnier appeared to welcome the proposals, but warned that any agreement must be acceptable under European Commission rules. 

Tweeting in response to the Cabinet’s marathon Chequers summit, which ended late last night, the European Commission’s chief negotiator said that the Chequers discussion was ‘to be welcomed’, cautioning that the Commission would assess whether the proposals were ‘workable and realistic’. 

However, Barnier had previously said that the EU would reject any bespoke deal or cherrypicking of the single market’s rules, casting doubt on whether May’s proposal would be accepted by the Commission. 

Officials in Brussels have expressed doubt about the viability of the plans, with one unnamed official telling The Times: “Hopefully what we are hearing is just the Conservative Party talking to itself.! 

“On Monday, she will need to start talking to us and it will have to be substantial.