Business leaders call on Boris Johnson to engage constructively with Brexit negotiations

Business leaders call on Boris Johnson to engage constructively with Brexit negotiations
Boris Johnson gives his speech after being announced as the new Conservative party leader and next Prime Minister. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Reacting to today's Tory leadership announcement of new party leader and British PM Boris Johnson, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has called on both the incoming UK government and the EU to "engage constructively" in Brexit negotiations.

"The election of a new Conservative Party leader today offers an important opportunity to move forward on Brexit and to end the current uncertainty that prevails," said John McGrane, Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

"Businesses on both sides of the Irish Sea have been operating without any clarity and in fear of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for too long.

In recent weeks, small and medium-sized businesses have had to take the costly decisions to implement no-deal Brexit contingency measures that inhibit their ability to grow in the short term.

“We encourage both the incoming UK Prime Minister and his EU counterparts to engage constructively in negotiations over the coming weeks.

"It is now vital that negotiators find a solution that can end the current impasse and protect the valuable trading links between the UK and Ireland."

Mr McGrane warned that a no-deal scenario is a very real prospect and that it would be "extremely damaging" for everyone.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce said that industry leaders would now look to Mr Johnson for support as he takes his place as British Prime Minister.

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce said that this is the most significant period of change and uncertainty faced by the UK in a generation.

“Companies want to see a pro-business approach from the offset. Specifically, he must deliver a sensible and pragmatic plan to break the Brexit impasse, demonstrating that the new government is fully committed to avoiding a messy and disorderly exit on 31 October," said Ms McGregor.

"Whilst there is absolutely no appetite for a no-deal exit, the government must simultaneously step-up and provide businesses with the urgent support they need to plan for all scenarios.

“At a time when business confidence is low, the new Prime Minister must also take immediate steps to inject momentum and confidence into the UK economy, working with businesses over the coming weeks and months to create the best possible environment for long-term growth."

Ms McGregor added that a firm commitment to restoring power sharing institutions at Stormont would be warmly welcomed and said Mr Johnson "must do everything possible to see the institutions restored".

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