18 August 2016

According to national newspapers, Conservative MPs who campaigned for the UK to leave the EU are growing worried that the Prime Minister will allow the negotiations to drag on and are promising unspecified action if any attempt is made to delay talks.

Eurosceptics have listened to Theresa May repeating that “Brexit means Brexit” and some are prepared to see that as meaning that the UK should leave the EU as soon as possible, whatever the cost.

However, Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned that Britain must adopt “a realistic negotiating position” with the rest of the EU or face years of damaging economic uncertainty.

Now one of the UK’s leading business organisations, the CBI, has asked more than 500 of its members how they think the negotiations should be shaped, and received answers that will appal the Eurosceptics.

“Top of the list comes the clear call: we must continue trading easily with our neighbours,” the CBI said. “With 45% of the country’s exports destined for the EU and 53% of imports drawn from it, maintaining easy access to this market, with minimal barriers, is a major business concern.”

Its members have also highlighted the importance of retaining influence over new EU rules and standards that may well still apply to the UK’s trading businesses post-Brexit.

When they also say that “free movement from the EU has helped companies overcome skills and labour shortages, and brought valuable talent into our workforces”, the CBI members must be ringing loud alarm bells on the Government’s back benches.

Open trade, influence over proposed legislation and access to free movement sounds rather like being a member of the EU.

“Shaping our future: Key business principles for the UK-EU negotiation”, which can be found at news.cbi.org.uk, highlights the questions that will make or break Brexit.