Business leaders call for Britain to remain in the single market post-Brexit

Chevening House, Kent - Flickr/l2f1

The Confederation of British Industry has called for the British government to remain in the single market and customs union until a new UK-EU trade deal is in place.

In a speech at the London School of Economics, CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn said businesses want the UK government to build a “bridge” and not a “cliff edge” for trade, adding that it is “not about whether we are leaving the EU, it is about how.”

But remaining in both the single market and customs union would mean Britain would continue to accept freedom of movement, pay large sums of money to the EU budget and accept the jurisdiction of European courts. The British government would be unable to strike its own trade deals around the world during the period.

The proposed transition period would be in place until Britain strikes a deal with Brussels, meaning it could go on (with Britain virtually remaining a member of the EU) for up to ten years, as Obama said in April. 

Gisela Stuart, who chaired the Vote Leave campaign, damned the proposal and accused the CBI of trying to “keep the UK in the EU by the back door”.

“The big business lobby would prefer to ignore the mandate from the referendum of taking back control of our laws, borders, money and trade, and instead attempt to keep the UK in the EU by the back door,” she said, adding that it would “only serve to tie our hands in the negotiations, and make it more likely that the EU gives us a bad deal”.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will today host business leaders at his official country residence – Chevening House – where he’s expected to propose increase cooperation between the government and business leaders as negotiations intensify.

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