June 27, 2017 / 4:13 PM / 5 months ago

Britain to heal business wounds over Brexit with new advisory group

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will set up a new Brexit advisory group bringing together business leaders and senior ministers to hear the views of major companies, many of which have felt ignored over the government’s stance on leaving the EU.

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, leaves 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

But the move stops short of the regular direct access to the prime minister, which was enjoyed by a number of firms under a previous advisory group set up by David Cameron when he was prime minister but disbanded by his successor Theresa May.

Prime Minister May’s plans for a clean break from the European Union, including an exit from the European single market, have alarmed many banks and big corporations who felt their needs were being sidelined.

“The government is creating a new EU exit business advisory group to ensure business is not only heard but is influential throughout the negotiations,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said on Tuesday.

Brexit minister David Davis said the government was working on the best way to liaise with business which would need to intensify as divorce talks with the European Union progress.

“The prime minister, the chancellor (finance minister), the business secretary and I will shortly outline new proposals to ensure we have the right mechanisms in place across government,” Davis told a summit.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks, a spokeswoman for May said on Tuesday.

Representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses, manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the Institute of Directors, the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chamber of Commerce are expected to meet regularly with Clark and Davis.

The EEF said Tuesday’s announcement was a step in the right direction.

“This move will be welcomed by manufacturers up and down the country, many of whom want clear assurances that their businesses will continue to trade seamlessly with our biggest market,” Chief Executive Terry Scuoler said.

Last week, a senior executive at Japanese carmaker Honda told Reuters it was unclear whether ministers were listening to the needs of firms, as it called on Britain to remain in the customs union to avoid barriers to trade.

May unexpectedly lost her parliamentary majority in a June 8 snap election, undermining her authority and making it more likely she will have to change her stance on Brexit in the months ahead.

Additional reporting by Kate Holton. Editing by Jane Merriman

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