'Now is not the time to play politics' say Brexit-weary business chiefs

Business leaders in Lancashire have reacted with exasperation after the shock resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Tuesday, 10th July 2018, 2:09 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:02 pm
David Davis has resigned as Brexit Secretary

Only days after it appeared the Cabinet had finally agreed a Brexit stategy, Mr Davis gave the bombshell news that he was walking away.

And yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson sensationally resigned as Foreign Secretary

Business leaders all over the UK have said for many months that the continuing uncertainty is hampering the economy.

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Many businesses are afraid to invest and some international companies have threatened to walk away from the UK.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said today that more political turmoil was the last thing business needed.

She said: “We have repeatedly argued, the priority must be to deliver clear and unequivocal answers to the practical, real-world questions businesses face.

“That remains the key test for the intense and complex negotiations that lie ahead.

“Now is not the time to play politics.”

Dominic Raab has been appointed the new Brexit Secretary by Theresa May.

Mr Raab, currently a housing minister, was a prominent Leave campaigner during the 2016 referendum.

The 44-year old Mr Raab, a lawyer before becoming an MP in 2010, will now take over day-to-day negotiations with the EU’s Michel Barnier.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “The CBI welcomes Dominic Raab as the new Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

“There’s a tough job ahead and business is ready and willing to support him and his team at DExEU deliver a good Brexit at such a critical time for the country.

“Proposals unveiled last week gave a genuine confidence boost to businesses struggling with uncertainty, yet the devil will be in the detail.

“ The White Paper therefore needs to deliver confidence for the UK’s world-leading services sector, as well as goods.

“Meanwhile, Europe’s leaders must approach the UK’s proposals with an open mind and flexibility, putting jobs and economic growth at the heart of a future deal that delivers for both sides.”

The European Commission has declined to comment on the Uk’s change of personnel, saying it would continue to negotiate with “good will” to try and secure an agreement.

Mr Davis warned the UK was giving “too much away, too easily” in the exit talks, but backed Theresa May to remain Prime Minister after his dramatic resignation rocked her premiership.

The outgoing Brexit Secretary said the Government had gone further than it should have in the negotiations, in a “dangerous strategy”.

His late-night resignation plunged Mrs May into a fresh leadership crisis and he was swiftly followed out of the Department for Exiting the EU by ally Steve Baker.

But Mr Davis said a leadership challenge would be the “wrong thing to do” and insisted he believed Mrs May was a “good prime minister”.

Asked if she could survive, he replied: “Oh yes, of course.”

Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns said Mrs May’s premiership was “over” but Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers, said he did not believe there would be an immediate challenge.

Downing Street insiders insisted Mr Davis had resigned over a difference of opinion rather than as part of a push against Mrs May, and said he had “done the honourable thing”.

Mr Davis said he told the PM at Chequers that he was going to be the “odd man out in this” as the latest stage of the Government’s Brexit strategy was agreed.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It seems to me we are giving too much away too easily and that’s a dangerous strategy at this time.

“Hopefully we will resist very strongly any attempt to get any further concessions from us on this, because I think this goes further than we should have gone already.”