Brexit should be delayed if no trade agreement, say businesses

London, Feb 28 (IANS) The UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) should be delayed if there is no trade agreement at the end of two years of negotiations, a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) report said on Tuesday.

The BCC, which consulted more than 400 businesses in order to identify “key business priorities” for the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the bloc, also called for “immediate certainty” on residence rights for EU citizens working in the UK, Efe news reported.

“In the UK’s negotiations with the EU, the ideal outcome for businesses would be for the EU exit negotiations and our future trade agreement with the EU to be concluded simultaneously, within the two-year timetable after triggering Article 50 — official process of leaving the EU,” the BCC report said.

However, if this is not possible, the UK “should seek an extension to the negotiating period, to enable completion of both agreements concurrently,” it said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would activate Article 50 before the end of March.

The BCC said businesses should have the freedom to recruit workers from the EU in a post-Brexit UK.

“The skills of existing EU workers are crucial to the success of businesses, and must be retained,” the report said.

May has also expressed an intention for the country to leave the single market in order to control immigration.

But the Prime Minister has also said she is interested in reaching a broad trade agreement with the EU.

Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major warned on Monday that May’s government was offering an “unreal and over-optimistic” depiction of the nation post-Brexit.

In June 2016, the UK electorate narrowly voted for the country to leave the EU in a historic referendum.

–IANS

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