Prime Minister’s Florence speech ‘provides more certainty’ for businesses

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Welcome news: Theresa May's speech encouraging for UK businesses
Welcome news: Theresa May's speech encouraging for UK businesses

Related tags Prime minister United kingdom

Theresa May’s proposals for a two-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU, as well as other assurances, have been welcomed by leaders in the on-trade.

In her speech, the Prime Minister said the UK is “moving through a new and critical period” in the history of its relationship with the European Union.

“The British people have decided to leave the EU; and to be a global, free-trading nation, able to chart our own way in the world,” she said.

“For many, this is an exciting time, full of promise; for others, it is a worrying one.

“I look ahead with optimism, believing that if we use this moment to change not just our relationship with Europe, but also the way we do things at home, this will be a defining moment in the history of our nation.”

No need to impose tariffs

Talking in Italy last week, May said she wants existing EU market access arrangements to apply during the two-year period, and proposed payments worth €20bn (about £18bn) during that time.

On trade, she said the two sides could do “so much better” than adopt existing models and that there is “no need to impose tariffs” where there are none now.

“It is reassuring that the Government appears to be listening to our needs - Kate Nicholls, CEO of the Association of Multiple Licensed Retailers 

On the speech, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the PM’s “explicit commitment” to a transition period that retains current single market arrangements is “very important to business in providing more certainty”.

“I also welcome the Prime Minister’s clear intent to protect the rights of existing EU nationals in the UK,” she said.

“Our EU employees form a hugely valuable part of our workforce in the beer and pub sector, and a registration system that is quick and easy to complete online is important and welcome.”

Safeguarding interests

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Prime Minister’s confirmation that she will seek agreement with the EU to implement a two-year transition period is welcome not only as a statement of intent but also as a wider signal of her commitment to safeguarding the interests of industries such as hospitality and avoiding a cliff edge for businesses that employ foreign labour.

“It is reassuring that the Government appears to be listening to our needs.”

Nicholls said the Prime Minister’s commitment to tariff-free trade between the UK and the EU in a future agreement is “also welcome”.

“Any imposition of tariffs would add to business costs and ultimately lead to higher costs for UK and EU consumers,” she added.

Negotiations are due to resume on Monday (25 September).

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