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29 March 2017

Article 50: Small businesses now need clarity on trade and talent, says FSB

Responding to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“Now that Article 50 has been triggered, it is time for the government to work towards a pro-business Brexit and give small firms some clarity on how leaving the EU will impact their businesses. In particular, FSB members want to see the easiest possible access to the single market. There must also be reassurance for small businesses which employ non-UK EU citizens, and rely on the ability to recruit those with the skills and talents they need.

“Access to the right skills at the right time is crucial for the success of a small business. A fifth of FSB members with staff employ non-UK EU citizens, workers that are vital to the UK economy. 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 workforces. 

“The Government must push for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU based on ease and cost, and then support small firms to take advantage of new trade agreements with priority markets around the world. Small business exporters tell us that the EU single market is still their top market of choice, but firms are also keen to focus on the US, China, Australia and Canada. One third of exporting small businesses have told us they would be genuinely deterred from trading with the EU if a tariff of between two to four per cent was imposed on trade between the UK and EU.

“It’s vital that throughout the Brexit negotiations the small business voice is not lost and that the final agreement is positive for British business. For this reason, FSB will continue to be a constructive partner with the Government on Brexit, especially on issues such as access to markets, to skills and labour, funding – as well as creating the right regulatory environment after Brexit.

“There is now a two year window of opportunity to influence EU law. FSB will focus efforts in the Commission and Parliament to secure pro-business reforms to the single market, as arrangements agreed between now and March 2019 will become UK law.”