Business Secretary Sajid Javid has insisted that retaining the UK’s access to the single market will be the ‘number one priority’ during Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Mr Javid met with more than 20 representatives of business groups and key industries, including leaders from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Institute of Directors (IoD) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Following the meeting, he told reporters that the need to secure continued access to the single market was the biggest issue raised, and said: ‘While I’m not in a position to make promises, I told everyone that my number one priority will be just that’.
He also said that the Business Department had a single named contact for more than 80 of Britain’s top inward investors and exporters, and that the department would be contacting those companies in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a survey by the IoD of 1,000 of its members found that a quarter planned to freeze recruitment following the referendum result, with 5% planning to cut jobs. Almost two-thirds said the vote was negative for their business.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, told the BBC: ‘Business leaders are very, very concerned. Nearly half of them expect the other member states to punish Britain.
‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk. Over time we must not lose faith in business to recover, but it was always going to be a shock with a loss of jobs and economic growth for quite a long time and it looks as though it will permeate through the whole of British business.’
However, the survey found that almost a third of IoD members intend to keep hiring at the same pace.