How are the UK's business groups reacting to the Brexit white paper?

 
Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

Some of the UK's biggest business groups have come out in favour of a Brexit white paper published by the government today, but questions still remain on the rights of EU nationals.

The Department for Exiting the European Union published the paper earlier this afternoon, following pressure from MPs to provide more information on Brexit planning.

Square Mile lobbyists TheCityUK - which last month dropped demands for full passporting rights - was among the first to welcome the publication, with chief executive Miles Celic welcoming the government's support for regulatory cooperation and recognition as well as transitional arrangements to manage the shift to a post-Brexit world.

"The white paper is right to focus on ensuring that the UK remains the best place in the world to do business, and to recognise the benefits of a phased approach to implementation. Ensuring a sufficient adaptation period for highly regulated industries such as UK-based financial and related professional services will be key," Celic said.

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The British Bankers' Association were also pleased by the document, in particular noting the commitment to a phased transition for the financial services sector.

“All existing EU member states have a mutual interest in ensuring that there’s a smooth exit and securing post-Brexit arrangements that recognise the close ties between our financial systems. The government’s support for interim arrangements is essential to ensure there are no cliff-edge effects when the UK leaves the EU," BBA chief executive Anthony Browne said.

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Meanwhile, the CBI reiterated its concerns around the UK falling back on World Trade Organisation defaults if it is unable to secure a new trading relationship with the UK, but committed to working with the government towards "the best possible outcome for the UK".

In particular, CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn welcomed the government's call for input on new migration rules, and recognition of the need for input from the devolved nations.

However, others were less impressed. The London Chambers of Commerce and Industry branded the report a "missed opportunity" for failing to offer any guarantees on the rights of EU nationals currently resident in the UK.

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Theresa May has repeatedly stressed a desire to protect the rights of both European and British nationals abroad, and faces growing calls to do so unilaterally.

LCCI figures show that non-UK migrant workers constitute a quarter of the capital's workforce, and paid £13bn in taxation in 2015.

Chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “Their contribution to the UK economy is substantial and should be recognised.

"With Brexit on the horizon business needs some certainty. The White Paper should have offered that on EU National workers."

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