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Chamber chiefs give their verdict on PM's plan for UK's EU exit
“IN BUSINESS, what you achieve in a negotiation - not what you bid for - is what really matters.”
That is the verdict of the chief executives of Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Chambers of Commerce on the speech by Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday outlining her 12-point plan for the UK's exit from the European Union.
Businesses are being pragmatic and planning for several potential outcomes, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire Chambers chief executive Paul Griffiths and his counterpart in Bedfordshire Cheryl Smart agree.
Mrs Smart said: “While businesses now have a clearer sense of the Prime Minister's top-line priorities, they will come away from her speech knowing little more about the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
"The simple fact is that businesses are carrying on. Directly-affected companies are being pragmatic and are preparing for a range of possible outcomes.”
Mr Griffiths added: "Away from Westminster, many businesses are ignoring the Brexit 'noise' completely, and say there needs to be a far bigger focus on getting the basics right here at home.
“Their message is that Brexit must not become all-consuming, and that having the right skills, infrastructure and business environment across the UK will play a far bigger part in our future success than any eventual Brexit deal."
Mrs May’s comments confirmed the eventuality that the UK will leave both the Single Market and the Customs Union, with some sort of free trade deal to follow.
Mr Griffiths said: “Agreeing a reasonable transitional period that gives directly-affected businesses the breathing space they need to adapt to new realities would simply be common sense."
Mrs Smart added: “If, as the Prime Minister suggested, citizens of the EU-27 are subject to future restrictions, a simple and light-touch system is required. Bringing EU nationals into the costly and bureaucratic Home Office work permit process would be a huge regulatory burden for many businesses, especially when their immediate skills shortages at every level remain acute.”
All three Chambers will continue to work with their members, monitor the negotiations closely and ensure the views of its members are represented at a national level via the British Chambers of Commerce, local MPs and central government, the chief executives said.
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