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Brexit needs clarity Chamber chief tells PM

 

Read James Ramsbotham's column as published in the North Echo.

Enough is enough.

This was the tenor of my letter to Theresa May last week on behalf of our members across the region who are becoming increasingly exasperated at the lack of tangible progress towards a positive Brexit deal.

My views were sent to try and provide impetus to the Prime Minister to get clarity ahead of the latest EU Summit held at the weekend.I regret to say we are still not anywhere near where we need to be for a successful separation from the EU.

The poor progress on Brexit negotiations is causing huge frustration and potential damage to businesses in our region.

Our members are increasingly frustrated at the lack of tangible progress towards a positive deal which is clearly hindering business planning. While our regional economy currently remains robust, we regularly hear about lower investor confidence, projects being delayed and skilled workers leaving for other countries due to uncertainty over our future business landscape.

The list of global companies lambasting the Government over this lack of clarity is ever-growing, following the clear statements from Airbus, BMW and Nissan, that they need to know where they stand.

Potential tariffs and customs arrangements don’t just pose cost implications for these businesses and many like them, they also present substantial threats to Just In Time manufacturing.You cannot run a successful, seamless operation of this type if half of your components are still at the dockside or airport instead of on the factory floor.

At the heart of this lies woefully underwhelming levels of engagement and consultation by Government with local businesses. There are perfectly valid fears among our exporters that the Government’s stance on the Customs Union and Single Market will only serve to harm our ability to trade with our biggest export market.

We are the most successful exporting region in the country and that tremendous and long-standing track record mustn’t be damaged by the lack of Government decision-making.

Statisics show 62% of export goods from the North East area destined for the EU, hence our consequent vulnerability to a poorly managed Brexit process.

We presume the Government believes the ultimate outcome of the Brexit negotiations will both be better overall and significantly better for North East England, given its manifesto commitments.

However, we’re yet to see any firm evidence on which to base this view.