Leaders of some of the UK's biggest companies including banks RBS, HSBC and TSB have said they fear a hard Brexit, with more than half wishing the whole process could be stopped.
A poll of 100 business leaders at last night's annual Odgers Berndtson dinner for chairs and chief executives found that just one per cent believed a deal akin to that touted by the Economists for Free Trade yesterday would be good for their firms.
More than half (57 per cent) of the FTSE 100 bosses, representing groups such as Sainsbury's, BT, Aon and Dixons Carphone, said they were not confident about the medium-term economic outlook, while three per cent described themselves as "terrified".
Some 53 per cent of executives said they wanted to stop the Brexit process altogether, while 41 per cent stressed the need for a transition. Three-quarters said that a hard Brexit or leaving without a deal would have a significant impact and impose “material disruption and cost” to their businesses.
Job security was also front of mind. The senior director of one leading bank asked whether, in a rolling transition, there might ever be a chance for jobs transferred elsewhere to return to the UK.
“This sends a very clear warning from the heads of top UK companies that crashing out of Europe without a deal will come at the price of prosperity and jobs,” Kit Bingham, head of the board practice at search firm Odgers Berndtson said. “We’ve now seen the economic projection for a hard Brexit and British business leaders don’t buy it.”