Soft Brexit calls grow as business confidence falls

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Calls for a soft Brexit have grown since the general election
Calls for a soft Brexit have grown since the general election

Related tags: General election, European union, International trade, Eu

Calls for a soft Brexit – maintaining closer ties to the EU’s market of 510M customers – continue to rise after the general election, as the Institute of Directors (IoD) reveals a “dramatic drop” in business confidence since the hung parliament.

Any Brexit talks should begin with guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, and agreeing a trade deal, said the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Its calls came after Theresa May’s hard Brexit plans were thrown into confusion last week, after the Conservatives lost its majority in parliament.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “With only 10 days before Brexit talks begin, the UK needs to be fast out of the blocks. Agreeing transition arrangements and guaranteeing EU citizens’ rights should be early priorities to get the talks off to a good start and show to the world that trade and people come first.

‘Refocus on the economy’

“With a new government, there has never been a more important time to refocus on the economy and plan with confidence and ambition. The next government needs to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions.”

Elsewhere, Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson told BBC News Saturday (June 10) that she wanted “free-trade and economic advancement at the heart of the Brexit deal”​.

Meanwhile, 65% of IoD members thought last week’s general election hung parliament was “a significant concern”​ for the UK economy, it revealed today (June 12). An IoD survey found 92% of its members thought the hung parliament was a concern for the economy.

But, the survey also revealed that 59% of members wouldn’t welcome another general election.

‘Crash in confidence’

IoD director general Stephen Martin said: “It is hard to overstate what a dramatic impact the current political uncertainty is having on business leaders, and the consequences could – if not addressed immediately – be disastrous for the UK economy. The needs of business were largely absent from the campaign, but this crash in confidence shows that must change in the new government.

“Saying this, there is also little appetite for a further election this year, and indeed business leaders are keener to see the new government get to work in Brussels and on the domestic front. Ensuring negotiations start well, and delivering higher quality skills and infrastructure across the country, must be the priority.”

Meanwhile, the Freight Transport Association said after the general election that the government needed to review its decision to leave the EU Customs Union​.

How do you like your Brexit?

Very hard Brexit

  • Falling back on World Trade Organisation rules, which are implemented immediately
  • No attempt to negotiate any new agreement with the EU

Hard Brexit

  • Swift but minimal free trade agreement
  • The FTA might lean more towards the style of earlier free trade agreements which focused on basic tariff reduction and goods trade, but exclude services where the UK runs a large surplus

Middling Brexit

  • Full free trade agreement, covering both goods and services with cooperation on regulation and product standards
  • Co-operation on issues from foreign policy to Justice and home affairs.
  • This could take some time to negotiate and may require some form of transitional period

Soft Brexit

  • UK joins the European Economic Area (EEA), similar to Norway
  • Effectively stays in the single market but giving up a say on the rules of the market.
  • Judged an unlikely long­term option by Open Europe

Very soft Brexit

  • UK joins the EEA and seeks to stay inside the Customs Union.
  • Open Europe believes the UK seems likely to leave the Customs Union

Related topics: Services

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Industry report: Food for thought

Industry report: Food for thought

Columbus | 09-May-2019 | Technical / White Paper

A global industry report exploring challenges affecting food companies today and technologies that will help future-proof their businesses.

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more