Business titans tell ministers ‘next six months are critical’ in post-Brexit vote conference call
Some of the UK’s highest-flying executives reportedly lashed out at the government after its historic defeat on Theresa May’s Brexit deal in parliament yesterday.
The bosses of Balfour Beatty, Amazon and Tesco confronted cabinet members who failed to rule out a no-deal Brexit following the government’s massive defeat in a heated conference call immediately after the vote, according to reports.
Read more: How last night's vote on the Brexit deal unfolded
Last night’s vote saw 432 MPs come out against the deal compared to 202 who backed it.
The hour-long call saw the industry heads tell chancellor Philip Hammond that protracted uncertainty was damaging the UK’s economy, Sky News reported.
Business minister Greg Clark hosted the call, and CBI president and Tesco chairman John Allan allegedly urged the ministers to offer businesses clarity about what happens next.
He called on ministers for guidance after Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay allegedly declined to rule out no-deal to retain bargaining power with the EU.
“I thought it was actually a rather encouraging call. The chancellor was very clear that there was an acceptance I think, on the part of the government, we were in a new era after the vote, there had to be rapid and genuine consultation across Parliament and that would take place and it would be genuine,” Allan told Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
“Business leaders who were on this call felt that represented a real step forward – a recognition that what was on the table hadn't passed, that we needed something that would pass and we needed it to happen very, very rapidly.”
Balfour Beatty boss Leo Quinn raised concerns that Brexit was distracting from major infrastructure decisions on HS2, nuclear power and Heathrow airport’s expansion.
Read more: Brexit – what happens next?
“The enemy of business is delay and procrastination, and the construction industry will face large-scale restructuring where it cannot carry the resources it will need over the next 25 years, and capability will have to be let go,” Quinn said, according to Sky.
“Once resources are lost to industry it is very difficult to get them to come back; the next six months are critical.”