Business leaders call for stability post-Brexit

The BRC and FSB have urged the Government to bring stability to the small business sector in the wake of the Prime Minister’s resignation and the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the Government needs to create a sense of stability: “Keeping the cost of goods down for consumers and providing certainty for businesses must be at the heart of the Government’s plans for life outside of the EU.”

In a statement, the BRC said the Government needed to move quickly to explain the process of disentanglement from the EU. It argued that “without clarity, retailers, other businesses and the economy will suffer from a prolonged period of uncertainty”.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson
Helen Dickinson

The BRC added: “We are already seeing the commencement of a period of considerable volatility, as financial markets react to any emerging information that might indicate how the new relationship to the EU might be shaped. Retailers should be prepared for the possibility of significant swings, particularly in the exchange rate and consumer confidence.”

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Clearly the EU referendum debate has been contentious, but we now call on the Government and all parties to bring stability for the business community.

“The FSB calls on the Government for clarity on what these decisions now mean for businesses, including how they will have access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade.”

With small business confidence at its lowest levels since 2013, Mr Cherry argued that swift negotiations are needed to protect small firms that export throughout Europe.

He added: “Nearly a quarter of FSB members export, with the majority exporting to the single market. Access to the single market means access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth €11 trillion. We call on the Government for clarity on the impact to smaller firms who export wider afield through EU FTA agreements.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB
Mike Cherry

“These are crucial questions that need to be answered swiftly to ensure the confidence of UK’s 5.4 million small businesses, which is already at the lowest levels since 2013, does not fall any further. This includes clarity over the practical implications of this result on how smaller firms do business.”

In order to minimise any volatility in the market, the BRC stressed the need to ensure continued ease and minimum additional costs of importing EU goods into the UK to be sold on to customers.

It stated that the Government’s exit negotiations should aim to “ensure that the trade benefits of the Single Market (the absence of customs duties) are replicated in the UK’s new relationship with the EU”.

However, the BRC pointed out that the process of leaving the EU would take several years, during which time the UK will remain a member and the EU rules over free movement will continue to apply.