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19 June 2017

Business leaders join forces to urge Government to ‘put economy first’ as Brexit talks begin

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Government to “put the economy first” as formal Brexit negotiations got underway on Monday.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, came together with leaders of other business groups to emphasise the importance of a pro-business Brexit in a joint letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The letter urged the Government to engage with businesses in the UK on the many “crucial and complex aspects” of future economic relationships with the European Union.

A joint statement, also signed by the heads of British Chambers of Commerce, CBI, EEF and Institute of Directors, said: “If the government moves forward in real partnership with business, drawing on its expertise, it will be in a strong position to protect and strengthen the UK’s economy during this vital period and beyond.”

Acknowledging the decision of voters last June, the letter called for a deal that supports business growth as well as prioritising an early agreement on guarantees for EU citizens, having tariff-free goods trade between the UK and EU, and avoiding cumbersome customs bureaucracy.

The letter featured in coverage across the national media, including in The Times, The Guardian, City AM and the BBC.

Mike Cherry said: “The start of the Brexit talks is a crucial moment for the future of the UK economy, which is why FSB has joined other business groups in the unusual step of a joint letter to a senior government minister.

“It is vital that there is a pro-business Brexit deal, with the best possible access to the EU single market. We would like to see tariff-free trade, with minimal additional non-tariff barriers and, in particular, no cumbersome customs bureaucracy.

“FSB and other business groups have made it clear in the joint letter that the result of the referendum is not being questioned. Indeed, FSB has consistently recognised the potential benefits of Brexit alongside the potential risks.

"Now is the time to focus on making Brexit as much of a success as possible, putting small businesses in a strong position to thrive and grow.”

You can read more about the FSB’s published reports on what small firms want from Brexit here.