Theresa May says she will listen to business leaders following a fall out from parts of the business community and her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, after several companies warned of their fears following Brexit.
Johnson reportedly swore and was dismissive following reports from Airbus and BMW after they raised concern over the effect Brexit will have on their businesses. The two companies are among several multinationals who have warned that the disruption to customs after Brexit may well have an impact on their ability to invest and manufacture in the UK.
A day ago, the motor industry lobby group also warned that investment in the UK car industry has fallen dramatically – with their estimates suggesting it has been cut by half which is a direct result of the UK’S uncertain future relationship with the EU.
Furthermore, Japanese car manufacturers which account for around half of all cars made in the UK have been explicit in their concerns about how Brexit will affect future business relations with the UK. Koji Tsuruoka, Japan’s Ambassador to the UK, said Honda, Toyota and Nissan, who account for around half of the cars made in Britain each year, need access to the EU.
“Already 80-90 per cent of their production is going to EU market, if there are tariffs, if there are procedures, that certainly will be in jeopardy,” he said. While none of the companies are actively looking to leave Britain, they may have no choice if their ability to access the EU market is impeded.
There have been further warnings from the City. The Bank of America announced it has moved its senior London trading trio to Paris. Merrill Lynch will move three of its most senior sales and trading executives in the City to the French capital, Paris.
This comes as other investment banks begin the process of enacting their Brexit plans, not least because uncertainty remains following the insignificant progress towards any Brexit deal. Merrill Lynch is also set to move hundreds of posts to Ireland and other posts across Europe.
Another international company- Heathrow operator Ferrovial- will move its international HQ to Amsterdam.
I could continue – it’s almost an endless list of relocations for both UK and international businesses which are currently based in the UK but feel forced to move to other parts of the EU so that their business activity is not interrupted.
If Theresa May is ready to listen to the fears business leaders are bringing to her door then I should hope she will give the same level of attention to the (more than) a hundred thousand citizens who marched through the streets of London at the weekend to demand she gives UK voters a final say on Brexit.
Just looking at the concerns of business leaders alone shows what a grave situation we are in. Voters have a right to a final say on any deal she may finally reach with the EU.