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20 March 2017

FSB reacts to Article 50 decision

Responding to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s confirmation that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:

“The triggering of Article 50 on March 29 needs to be the starting gun for a pro-business Brexit. Smaller businesses want to make sure that easy access to the EU single market and the right talent feature prominently in the forthcoming negotiations.

“A fifth (21%) of small businesses with staff employ non-UK EU citizens with almost half of these (47%) relying predominantly on mid-skilled staff. They include care, construction and production workers who often require specialist skills and training. The right to remain for these non-UK EU citizens must be guaranteed at the earliest opportunity to provide reassurance to smaller firms and their work forces. Settling this issue is crucial to business owners and the economy. In addition, any future immigration system must ensure that small firms can easily recruit the right person, for the right job, at the right time without adding additional administrative burdens on already time and resource strapped small businesses.

“One in three FSB members trades overseas, with the vast majority trading with the EU (92% of small business exporters and 85% of importers). The Government must ensure that its proposed comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU retains the same ease of trade currently enjoyed, with no new barriers for small businesses. Recent FSB research finds that nearly half (47%) of exporting small businesses say that tariffs play a role in where they export. In addition, non-tariff barriers (for example customs administration) are of equal importance. Just as importantly, the Government needs to provide additional support to small businesses to ensure they can capitalise on new trade opportunities with non-EU markets post-Brexit."