Business chief says Brexit Withdrawal Agreement “has not moved things on”

The chief executive of an organisation representing businesses in the East Midlands has been outspoken in the need for “snap judgments” in relation to Brexit.

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, has suggested that businesses have still not been provided with “clarity” following yesterday’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement documents.

EU and UK flags together

EU and UK flags together

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Provisional summaries of the 500 page document, which has yet to be ratified by either the UK Parliament or the EU27, suggest the UK should remain in the Customs Union and in a Free Trade Agreement with the EU for 20 months, while the final details of the ‘divorce’ are negotiated.

During this transition, the UK would not have voting rights at the EU but would continue to have to abide by EU regulations, including any created between now and any eventual agreed departure date, and the European Court of Justice would hold supremacy over UK courts.

The agreement would resolve, at least temporarily, the thorny issue of border controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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Mr Knowles said: “As of today, we don’t really seem to be very much further forward when it comes to businesses being able to plan for the future.

“Businesses will recognise the efforts made by the Prime Minister, ministers and civil servants and their EU counterparts to reach this milestone.

“Brexit was never going to be an easy undertaking.

“However, with people’s livelihoods and the future prospects of some companies in the balance, now is not a time for snap judgments.

“Businesses will scrutinise the real-world implications of this agreement and expect their elected representatives to do the same.

“After two and half years of uncertainty, this agreement could mark the end of the beginning of a process to deliver a smoother exit from the EU.

“What businesses need now, as they have always needed, is clarity on the specific terms of trade they will face in future.

“The avoidance of sudden or multiple changes to trading conditions remains crucial to encouraging business investment and confidence.”

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Following last night’s document at least four ministers have resigned from their posts in government over disagreements with the arrangement. 
This includes Dominic Raab MP, who was the Brexit Secretary that negotiated the deal, claiming it was not something he could support “in my right mind”.

Speaking on Mr Raab’s resignation Jonathan Bullock, East Midlands MEP, said: “The resignation of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab shows what a bad deal Theresa May has negotiated.

“She now must be forced out and a Brexiteer take over and deliver a real Brexit either by a Canada plus agreement or, if time has ran out, leaving with no deal and on WTO rules.”