Separate names with a comma.
There’s only one topic dominating the business agenda this week: Brexit.
It’s been rumbling on for what feels like forever and at this time of heightened tensions I find myself equally glued to its coverage as I am sick to the back teeth of the ongoing saga.
I’m logging onto the BBC News website in the forlorn hope of the whole issue being put to bed, in a similar way moths are attracted to a flame.
History was made in the House of Commons this week as MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which set out the terms of the UK’s planned exit from the EU, by 230 votes.
The margin of defeat was even higher than any of the numbers banded around in the media before the vote on Tuesday 17 January 2019, which followed five days of debate over the terms of the deal.
At the time of writing, there are 71 days left until we are scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and Mrs May showed the same Teflon-like tendencies to narrowly see off a vote of no confidence in her government as she did to survive a Tory leadership challenge before Christmas.
Now what? Scott-copywriter, who started the gargantuan Brexit Negotiations thread on UK Business Forums, thinks “the most likely route is to delay Article 50” beyond 29 March. “This does not require EU approval, but they are likely to grant it,” he added.
This appears to be the most probable outcome, at least in the short term and especially after Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted at a possible extension to Article 50 after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn failed in his attempt to force a third general election in less than four years.
Of course, the leading business groups were quick to respond to the outcome of the vote, with the Federation of Small Businesses saying “businesses still have no idea what kind of circumstances they should prepare for”.
The Confederation of Business Industry believes “every business will feel no-deal is hurtling closer,” an opinion UKBF Full Member Jeremy Hawke agrees with. The owner of a courier business is braced for another recession and urges other business owners to have their no-deal contingency plan ready to go in the spring.
“Everybody here should have their no-deal Brexit recession plan in place,” he said. “If everything falls apart, I will send the posh vans back to the hire company and get the old paid-for vans out of the brambles and run them.”
The conspiracy theorists among us wonder if Mrs May is presiding over a mischievous plot to undermine Brexit. After all, she was part of the 48% who voted Remain in the referendum back in 23 June 2016. How else could we still be so far from a solution after more than two years of negotiations with the EU? You can see how it could make sense.
UKBF user Quikshop certainly thinks so. “May is a leading actor in this choreographed dance to lead the populous up the no-Brexit path,” he said.
Regardless of whether or not Quikshop’s right or wrong, we are no closer now to knowing what path the UK will take in the future than we were in the lead-up to the referendum nearly three years ago.
As Mrs May lobbies for cross-party support like a dog chasing its tail, more than 170 business leaders are calling on both her and Corbyn to bang their heads together and back a second referendum on withdrawal from the EU.
"The priority now is to stop us crashing out of the EU with no deal at all,” the business group said. "The only feasible way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU... politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. We urge the political leadership of both the main parties to support a People's Vote.”
Regardless of how it’s achieved, there’s no doubt that what British firms want most is stability. It’s been a long time since it’s felt like business as usual.
Really, thank you
for those that are simply tired of the #brexitshambles