Big business leaders press Theresa May to rethink hard Brexit : The Guardian

Senior figures from across industry say PM did not secure mandate in election to leave the single market.

Senior business figures have heaped further pressure on Theresa May to change course for a softer Brexit in the wake of the election, amid fresh warnings of the impact of immigration controls and leaving the single market.

Stuart Rose, the Tory peer and chairman of online grocer Ocado, who backed Remain, said the election had been a “proxy re-referendum” against hard Brexit. Karan Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra beer and Remain backer, said the prime minister had “zero credibility” and that Britain could now rethink leaving. And Brian McBride, chairman of ASOS and Wiggle, has raised concerns about access to labour and customs checks.

Business groups are pressing Downing Street for a change in tone, as well as a formal role in the Brexit process. They also want an end to May’s repeated mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Josh Hardie, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said: “It is a time for reflecting on how businesses are feeling. It is absolutely clear that for the new government, the priority has got to be putting the economy first.”

The intervention comes on the eve of Brexit talks that begin even before May has finalised a governing deal with the DUP or navigated a curtailed Queen’s speech through parliament. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, who had been in line for the sack before the election result, is also signalling he wants a softer Brexit that could include a more comprehensive transitional deal. In comments putting him at odds with the prime minister’s determination to go for a hard Brexit that includes leaving the single market, customs union and slashing immigration, he will today assert that the majority of Britons want a deal that protects jobs, economic growth and prosperity.



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