Cumbria business leaders urge government to put economy top of Brexit agenda

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Plea: Chris Ward, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Cumbria JONATHAN BECKER
Plea: Chris Ward, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Cumbria JONATHAN BECKER
20 June 2017 12:29PM

BUSINESS leaders in Cumbria have joined their colleagues across the UK and called on the government to put the needs of the economy at the top of the Brexit agenda.

The British Chambers of Commerce, CBI, Engineering Employers’ Federation, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors have signed a joint letter to the government, seeking an arrangement where the UK can "maintain the economic benefits" of the European single market and customs union until a final settlement is agreed.

This letter also presses for an early deal giving guarantees on the rights of EU citizens working in the UK.

The groups, which claim to represent hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK employing millions of people, have also called for a "frictionless" open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Their letter said: "This is a deal that when finally agreed will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK. A deal that supports growth will allow companies to hire more people, raise living standards and improve lives across the country.

"A deal that supports growth will allow companies to hire more people, raise living standards and improve lives across the country."

It also said that they "fully accept" the result of last year's referendum on EU membership.

Chris Ward, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Cumbria, said: “Whatever the final outcome of the Brexit talks, innovative and resilient British companies will continue to develop new products and seek out new opportunities.

"It’s time to put narrow politics behind, and recognise Brexit is a major national endeavour."

"It’s in everyone’s interest that we build a new partnership with the EU which prioritises trade, jobs, and the prosperity of the UK," he added.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We called last week for the major parties to put aside their differences and work together to establish a common negotiating position on Brexit. This letter takes it a stage further by urging the Government to put the economy first as it starts formal negotiations.”

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