Business leaders and trade unions urge MPs to stop Brexit 'circus'

PUBLISHED: 21:17 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:17 12 March 2019

Anti-Brexit supporters out in force outside the House of Commons in Westminster. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Anti-Brexit supporters out in force outside the House of Commons in Westminster. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

The business community has reacted with frustration after the latest rejection of Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Industry leaders urged the Commons to reject the possibility of a no-deal Brexit this month, but stressed the need to find a way out of the impasse.

The Confederation of British Industry director general Carolyn Fairbairn called on MPs to “stop this circus” and said people’s jobs meant concensus needed to be found.

“Enough is enough. This must be the last day of failed politics,” she said.

“A new approach is needed by all parties. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.

“Extending Article 50 to close the door on a March no-deal is now urgent. It should be as short as realistically possible and backed by a clear plan.

“Conservatives must consign their red lines to history, while Labour must come to the table with a genuine commitment to solutions.

“It’s time for Parliament to stop this circus.”

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is profoundly obvious that neither Government nor many businesses are ready for a disorderly exit - and this must not be allowed to happen on March 29, whether by default or by design.

“Businesses have been failed over and over again by Westminster in recent months, but allowing a messy and disorderly exit on March 29 would take political negligence to new extremes.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Today’s vote leaves us perilously close to the cliff edge. No-deal would be catastrophic for the automotive industry.

“It would end frictionless trade, add billions to the cost of manufacturing and cost jobs. UK automotive businesses will be put at immediate risk.

“Parliament must reject no-deal and take it permanently off the table.”

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Our politicians have yet again failed to find a way to break the impasse.

“They are becoming adept at saying what they don’t want, but it’s still hard to see where the desire for compromise lies.”

Trade union leaders also raised concerns about the continued uncertainty.

GMB leader Tim Roache said: “The government can continue to flog a dead horse, or finally choose to be honest with the public about what can realistically be achieved.”

He added that the only way to “break the logjam” is a second referendum.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Two months may have passed since the last vote, but the PM’s bad deal remains the same.

“Her failure to negotiate a better deal risks a catastrophic no-deal Brexit that would crash the economy and harm public services.

“Thanks to her government’s negligence, working people are still no closer to knowing what Brexit means for them, their families, their jobs or the public services many help provide.”

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