JOBS will start to leave Britain within a few months if Brexit trade talks don’t get the green light next week, business bosses warned last night.
Lobbying group the CBI said more than half of companies were planning to kickstart their emergency plans by Easter unless negotiations move forwards.
The warning came after David Davis compared the impact of Brexit to the financial crisis.
Although Britain will stay in the EU until March 2019, many firms are already preparing for Brexit because they must lay out financial plans at least a year in advance.
Theresa May is hoping to convince EU leaders to sign off on the start of trade negotiations at a summit next week, but her efforts have been delayed by a row over the Irish border.
CBI boss Paul Drechsler – a strong Remain supporter – said last night that with no breakthrough, companies will start to make “no turning back” decisions in the first quarter of 2018.
He told City figures: “No company wants to move jobs or shift production – but business will if it has to. No-one wants to leave their homes or jobs – but EU citizens will if they feel they are no longer wanted.
“And we know that financial services firms start making their ‘no turning back’ decisions in the first quarter of 2018. There’s no time to waste. In the immediate term, business needs to know the details of any transition deal – Rome is burning on that issue.
“And we need progress at the EU Council next week or 60 per cent of firms with contingency plans will have put these into effect by Easter. That means jobs leaving the UK – in most cases irreversibly.”
Best for Britain CEO Eloise Todd said in response today: “Behind these figures are real people’s jobs, homes and livelihoods. If these jobs go they will not come back.”
Bank of England deputy governor Sam Woods said in October that a quick agreement on a transition deal was needed to stop financial firms pulling out of London.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, has said his bank will expand in European cities such as Frankfurt if Britain can’t trade freely with the EU.
But Brexit-backing leaders point out that London has been Europe’s main financial hub for centuries – and say that no EU city will ever be able to compete with it.
Yesterday, the Brexit Secretary Mr Davis told MPs Brexit’s impact on the economy would be as significant as the 2008 financial crisis.
He said both events represented a “paradigm shift” in how the UK economy works – making it impossible to forecast the future.