‘The prime minister deserves credit’ – East Anglian business leaders react as Parliament debates Brexit withdrawal agreement

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, says the prime minister deserves credit. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, says the prime minister deserves credit. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Anthony Cullen

Leaders in Norfolk’s business community have had their say as the debate rumbles on over the UK’s Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY.Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive. Picture: ANTONY KELLY.

Prime minister Theresa faced a three-hour grilling from MPs in Parliament on Thursday morning to justify the terms of the agreement which will define the country’s relationship with the European Union until a full trade deal can be negotiated.

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber, said the network was not rushing to judgement as it processed the detail of the 585-page agreement - but reiterated the business community’s repeated calls for stability and security.

He said: “Norfolk businesses will recognise the huge efforts made by the prime minister and across government to reach this milestone.

“With people’s livelihoods and the future prospects for many companies in the balance, this is not the time for snap judgments.

“Businesses will be looking carefully and deliberately at the real-world implications of this agreement over the coming days, and expect their elected representatives to do the same.

“After two and half years of uncertainty, this may be end of the beginning — but not yet the beginning of the end. Firms in our region need clarity and precision on the specific terms of trade they will face in future, many of which are still to be agreed.

“The avoidance of sudden or multiple changes to trading conditions is crucial to business investment and confidence.”

Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold brewer and distiller Adnams said the prime minister deserved recognition.

“The prime minister has had an incredibly difficult job to do and deserves credit for her determination under incredibly trying circumstances.

“We are however, still at the withdrawal agreement stage and therefore have little on how our trading relationship will develop with our largest and closest market.

“Like all businesses, Adnams needs a level of certainty in order we can develop plans, make investment decisions, create jobs and contribute to the wealth of our region and nation. We are still some way from the clarity we require.”

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said it was continuing to offer support businesses to help them manage the disruption of Brexit.

It agreed at its October board meeting to split its work into four strands: intelligence, advice, funding and strategic opportunities.

A summary paper said: “These four headline areas will form the basis for the LEP’s ‘minimise’ response to Brexit which should be to minimise uncertainty for business and deliver our ambitions for the Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations.”

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