EEF to lead calls for five year Brexit transition period  

Walking away from the EU with no deal in place will leave UK manufacturers on a cliff edge of uncertainty that will damage jobs and investment.

This stark warning will be made by Dame Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation at the National Manufacturing Dinner in London on Wednesday evening (February 22).

Hackitt will tell guests: “Uncertainty and confusion will result in business being left on a cliff edge. While the Prime Minister has warned of walking away and, that no deal is preferable to a bad deal, that is not an option that business can accept because no deal means prolonged uncertainty and confusion.”

“We simply have to avoid the UK departing in haste if we want to avoid spending the next thirty years repenting”, she is expected to say.

“What we must have is a deal that ensures our economy continues to thrive and is not sacrificed on the altar of satisfying assumed expectations in a referendum vote. That means a settlement that allows us to continue investing and creating the high-value jobs our economy will need in the future.”

Dame Judith will add that the UK is going to have a new relationship with the EU and looking back is not an option. “A new relationship with the European Union is a given. The decision to leave has been taken as a result of a democratic process and we must now seize this as an opportunity. Wishing it were different is in nobody’s best interests. We must make it work and minimise uncertainty for everyone, especially for business and industry who will be the driving forces behind creating a new and prosperous UK economy.”

In recognising the concerns over immigration and the desire for tighter borders, industry does still need access to the skills which EU workers bring,

Dame Judith will also urge government to adopt a pragmatic approach and call for an orderly transition period of at least five years, which will allow business time to adjust during the multitude of complex issues, which have to be worked through. Such a deal must not favour one sector of the economy over another, she will say.

She will also call for any deal to ensure it “allows the UK and European Union to continue trading in as open a way as possible with the UK accessing as much of the Single Market and Customs Union as possible.”

On immigration Dame Judith will also urge the government to take the lead on making the positive case to the British public that: “in recognising the concerns over immigration and the desire for tighter borders, industry does still need access to the skills which EU workers bring, including high-quality skills, all of which are important in supporting our economy and public services.”