British business pleads against ‘hard Brexit’
Piccadilly Circus, London. | Pacific Press Agency/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
A group of major British business lobbies urged their government in a letter Saturday to retain access to Europe’s single market after the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.
In the letter, the Confederation of British Industry and EEF manufacturers’ group argued that a ‘hard’ Brexit would harm exporters, destroy jobs and raise costs for local industry.
“We respect the result of the referendum, but the government must make sure that the terms for the deal to leave ensure stability, prosperity and improved living standards,” the groups, which represent hundreds of thousands of employees, wrote.
If Britain lost access to the EU’s single market and reverted to World Trade Organization rules on international trade, the groups said, costs would rise by 20 percent for Britain’s food and drink industry and by 10 percent for car producers.
“Every credible study that has been conducted has shown that (the) WTO option would do serious and lasting damage to the U.K. economy and those of our trading partners,” the letter read.
The lobby groups were reacting to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s endorsement of a ‘hard’ Brexit. At the Conservative Party conference, she said that Britain would not remain in the EU single market if that meant losing control of immigration.
However, European leaders warned Britain this week that failing to respect EU rules on the free circulation of people would rule out access to the single market.