Trade reacts to new Brexit declaration

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit deal: the pros and cons among trade leaders, ahead of the EU's vote on Sunday
Brexit deal: the pros and cons among trade leaders, ahead of the EU's vote on Sunday

Related tags: brexit

Trade leaders have been responding to the announcement that the political declaration on the future relationship of the UK and EU has been agreed.

The European Council has agreed in principle to the declaration - which briefly outlines the way ahead for a number of issues including trade and transport.

The draft agreement sits alongside with the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement, but is only 26-pages long. The two documents are set to be voted on by the 28 EU leaders on Sunday 24 November, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying efforts were focused on a “final conclusion in the interests of all our people”.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls welcomed the news and said the likelihood of a deal was reassuring for businesses. 

“This is a positive step forward for businesses looking for stability and clarity in order to plan their investment," she said. 

Reassurance 

“Hospitality operators need to know they will have the reassurances provided by a deal.

“It cannot be stressed enough that a no deal Brexit would present the sector with severe problems and would have a serious impact on confidence. This agreement demonstrates a clear alignment on a direction of travel.

“This crucial step in securing a Brexit withdrawal agreement will provide much-needed confidence that a no deal scenario will be avoided.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said certainty for businesses was crucial and a no deal should be avoided. 

She said: “Brexit presents opportunities and challenges for our sector, but above all brewers and publicans alike need certainty.

"Clarity on the transition period from 29 March onwards and a strong steer on the future relationship with the EU would therefore be better for businesses.

"A no deal Brexit, creating further uncertainty, should be avoided at all costs.”

Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said it was well-placed to handle Brexit - set to occur on the penultimate day of its financial year - in its half-year results.

He said: “Facing uncertainty is never easy, but Fuller’s is an exceptionally well-established operation and benefits from a balanced business model which is designed to be flexible enough to adapt to changing trends and markets yet resilient enough to weather any storm.

“With a first-class team of people, a well-invested pub estate and a portfolio of outstanding brands, we are ready and able to face the future.”

Differing views

It comes as Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said he will promote a ‘no deal’ scenario to punters on a tour of 100 of his pubs.

“Now that the details of the appalling deal, negotiated by the Downing Street kitchen cabinet have become clear, it is certain the UK will be financially far better off by choosing no deal,” Martin told national newspapers.

A ‘no deal’ scenario would allow the Government to reduce import taxes on non-EU products, reducing prices for UK consumers, he argued.

Conversely, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggested customers would not see much price benefit​ from the slashing of tariffs.

Migration 

The agreement ends free movement and will see immigration policy move to a skills-based system, whereby hospitality workers from outside the UK could face restrictions​.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the Prime Minister’s language on immigration in an address to MPs.

He said: “I hope the PM will abandon the poisonous and divisive rhetoric about  EU nationals jumping the queue. They have contributed massively to this country across all industries while it is this Government and this PM who have built a hostile environment for non-EU nationals.

Union Unite said its Service Industries sector hoped in Brexit there would be a potential for workers' pay and conditions to improve. Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said the Government was urging the country to "don a blindfold and take a leap of faith" and urged MPs to reject the Government’s withdrawal deal in Parliament.

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