Business leaders pour cold water on Tory election victory with Brexit warning

PUBLISHED: 07:29 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:29 13 December 2019

The Institute of Directors have warned Boris Johnson not to rush into Brexit deadlines despite his election victory. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/PA Images

The Institute of Directors have warned Boris Johnson not to rush into Brexit deadlines despite his election victory. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Business leaders have reacted coolly to Boris Johnson's landslide victory, asking him not to rush towards "arbitrary negotiating deadlines" for Brexit and highlighting "question marks" over plans for immigration and infrastructure.

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After the Conservative party achieved a historic election win with the slogan "get Brexit done", the Institute of Directors (IoD) has released a statement with a notably cautionary tone.

The business organisation called for the incoming government to be "clear-sighted about the challenges facing business" and called on Johnson to give substance to his omnipresent campaign slogan.

The IoD's director general Jonathan Geldart said: "After years of parliamentary chaos, directors want to see a government that is clear-sighted about the challenges facing businesses, and ambitious, but realistic, in its response."

He said that British companies are "eager for some clarity".

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On Brexit, he warned the prime minister to pay attention to detail and content of deals rather than simply rushing ahead.

"For directors, 'Get Brexit Done' will only have meaning once the details of our long-term future relationship with the EU are clear, they need a framework to plan for the future from," he said.

"The prime minister must resist the urge for arbitrary negotiating deadlines, and should commit to a proper adjustment period that starts when businesses know the full detail of what changes they may be facing.

"Our members have made clear that the content and shape of any new deal are much more important than simply the speed in getting there."

He also challenged the prime minister to fulfil or clarify key manifesto commitments, saying: "On the domestic front, we must now see progress on the challenges that have been holding the economy back, from skills to infrastructure.

Many directors will be waiting for action on manifesto commitments such as incentives for R&D investment and business rates reform.

"Meanwhile, there are still big question marks around the Conservatives' plans on immigration and big-ticket infrastructure projects."

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