British manufacturers have called for the government to rethink its Brexit strategy and place greater emphasis on membership of the single market and a form of customs union.
A survey by EEF showed that firms in the sector are already altering their plans due to the current strategy, and it called for a change in focus along with a suitable transition period.
It warned that more organisations may end up considering moving their operations away from the UK unless the government adopts a more pro-business outlook in the upcoming negotiations.
“The new government’s priorities must radically re-focus Brexit negotiations around trade and close cooperation ensuring a smooth exit from the EU,” said EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler.
“There are numerous ways of establishing a new relationship with the EU and, given we’ve just wasted a year, the government needs to move away from its previous rhetoric and start repairing relations with EU partners.
“This means putting access to the single market and a form of customs union at the heart of a revised strategy, and removing the shibboleths created around a hard Brexit, which businesses know would be highly damaging for Britain.
“The UK can surely manage who is and who is not in the country by introducing a more effective and robust form of immigration control which maintains the rights of EU citizens and UK citizens across Europe.
“With less than two years to negotiate a meaningful deal, the government should commit to a significant period of transition to manage uncertainty for businesses and bolster confidence.
“Business groups can help with the negotiations over trade, which is the model every other government involved in trade negotiations operates, and we need to be brought in quickly to do this. We need to build a political consensus based on our collective national interest.”
Photo © taaee / 123RF Stock Photo