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Top UK business chief begs MPs to stop 'chasing rainbows' on Brexit

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Archive/PA Images
BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Archive/PA Images

A senior business leader has pleaded with MPs to stop “chasing rainbows” after a series of rival Brexit plans were voted down in parliament last night.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), accused politicians of spending “three years going round in circles” in a speech at the organisation’s annual conference in London today.

The hard-hitting comments are just the latest of a string of recent attacks on Westminster by leading business figures, highlighting widespread despair at continued uncertainty and the risk of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit as the UK’s withdrawal date nears.

The head of the BCC, whose local branches represent firms with almost six million workers across Britain, urged politicians to end the “corrosive damage” of continued uncertainty and do everything to avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal.

READ MORE: ‘Deep frustration and uncertainty’ among firms as Brexit nears

Marshall said: “To Westminster we say – we are frustrated. We are angry. You have let British business down. You have focused on soundbites, not substance. Tactics, not strategy. Politics, not prosperity.

“No one would run a business like this – and it is no way to run a country.

“It cannot be right that we leave in a way where government itself predicts there will be mass disruption to businesses and communities. A messy and disorderly exit would not just be deeply irresponsible – it would be a flagrant dereliction of duty.”

He said the UK needed to restore its reputation as a good place to do business, and urged politicians to start making compromises to secure a breakthrough.

“But we in business must make it clear that our elected representatives cannot keep chasing rainbows. Like all of us in business, they need to start making tough decisions, however personally or politically difficult they might be.”

READ MORE: ‘Alarm bells ringing’ as finance sector optimism dries up at fastest rate since crisis

Yesterday the director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD) said there was “deep frustration and anger among companies” over the government’s handling of Brexit so far and urged it to listen to firms’ concerns.

Meanwhile on Monday the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the UK’s largest business lobbying group, called Brexit a “national emergency,” after writing a joint open letter with the head of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) last week calling for a “Plan B.”