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Bristol MPs and business leaders react to Theresa May's draft Brexit deal

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Written by: Hannah Baker | Posted 16 November 2018 15:44

Bristol MPs and business leaders react to Theresa May's draft Brexit deal

The announcement of Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal has caused something of a stir across the UK.
 
The pound plunged in value yesterday following the news that cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Esther McVey had quit over the draft withdrawal agreement, while Jacob Rees-Mogg has sent a letter of no confidence to the prime minister.
 
But, despite the noise coming out of Westminster, Theresa May now has the backing of her cabinet over the 385-page agreement.

But the reaction to the news in Bristol has been mixed.
 
Phil Smith of Bristol business chamber Business West, says the political instability surrounding the agreement is creating “more uncertainty” at a time when businesses were hoping to start making decisions about future growth.

He said: “[The situation] seems to raise the prospect on a ‘no deal’ considerably, which will deeply worry many.
 
“A no-deal Brexit would be tremendously damaging for businesses in the region, and threaten the viability of many exporting firms – it is not a prospect that any political leader should consider.

Read more: Channel 4 bosses visit Bristol following 'creative hub' announcement
 
“After two and a half years it is deeply frustrating that the prospect of a sensible agreement seems to be being threatened, with no other viable form of Brexit being offered. Calm compromise and details of a realistic plan are needed urgently.”
 
Labour MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones says he won't vote for the deal, tweeting that the government should be “ashamed” of its “childish amateur mess”.

He said: “This isn’t even the deal! The proposed 'deal' on the future EU-UK relationship was a mere seven-page wish list with no agreement whatsoever.
 
“It’s clear that Brexit is bad for Bristol and for Britain... the prime minister doesn’t have a majority of the House of Commons for her proposals. And it’s clear that our future trading relationship hasn’t even been agreed yet."
 
However, Tory MP for Kingswood Chris Skidmore has tweeted that the deal does “deliver" on the referendum result.
 
He tweeted: “Clear that the only alternatives to a #brexitdeal are either the sharp economic consequences of no deal cliff edge or no Brexit- above all we must deliver on the referendum result which this deal does.

He also added: "The PM demostrated resilience and calmness at the despatch box today. The draft EU deal delivers on the referendum result- crucially ending freedom of movement. Don't see any practical and realistic alternative anywhere. Otherwise we end up with cliff edge of no deal or no Brexit.

Meanwhile, Labour MP for Bristol West Thangam Debbonaire believes Theresa May is trying to “force” MPs to vote for the “woefully inadequate” agreement.

Read more: Bristol exporters should 'tap' into international networks, urges advisory business
 
Thangam, who will be voting against the deal, says that although she wants business to have more certainty, voting for a “bad deal” is not “good for business” .
 
She said: “The PM will need to take responsibility for her own failure to back business- if we leave, which I do not want, and with a bad deal or no deal, which I also do not want, it is on her.
 
"Businesses in Bristol and the people who work in them deserve better than this.
 
“[Theresa] May does not have the support of her own government or Parliament. I will be working hard with Labour colleagues over the next hours, weeks and months to find a way out of this disaster.”

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at financial firm Hargreaves Lansdown, which has offices on Bristol harbourside, says if Brexit "unravels" in the next few days it will cause "further distress" to share prices.

He said: "The market has taken a big red pen to stocks which are heavily exposed to the UK economy like the banks, retailers and housebuilders.

"The pound has fallen, which is acting as a buoyancy aid for the Footsie index, as it boosts the share prices of the big international firms whose revenue streams largely come from overseas.

"However if sustained, a weaker pound spells bad news for a retail sector which is already struggling, as it hikes up the price of imported goods and at the same time squeezes consumer incomes."

If you are a Bristol business leader and would like to share your thoughts on the draft Brexit agreement, email hannah.baker@reachplc.com.

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