Do the deal today, says former Remain campaign chief STUART ROSE as he insists ‘it is time to move on’
STUART ROSE former chairman of Marks & Spencer who ran the Remain in Europe campaign in 2016: It’s no secret I was a Remainer. I’m still a Remainer but I respect the democratic process. I am also a pragmatist and a realist.
I recognise that it is time for us to move on and the deal the Prime Minister has got is an opportunity for us to do that.
I am involved in the food, clothing and automobile industries so I have some perspective on how damaging the lack of clarity has been.
Looking through the lens of business, we need to break this log jam.
Is this deal perfection? No. Is it better than what we had before? Yes. Does it deserve serious attention? Yes. Do I believe 90 per cent of business people would back it? Absolutely.
Why? Without a deal, there is so much uncertainty, so much lack of confidence. It is causing real harm to the economy and the longer it goes on, the worse it will get.
People are not putting their hands in their pockets. They are not buying cars, houses or other big-ticket items. They are holding back because they are waiting to see what is happening with Brexit.
This is mirrored in business. I meet a lot of executives and entrepreneurs and I know for a fact they are not investing in their businesses.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the European Union Council after the Brexit-dominated European Union leaders summit in Brussels on October 18
Without a deal, it will be a fourth Christmas with no clarity. People want clarity – people want to plan their futures. We are not living in an ideal world and everyone will have to compromise.
We all have to lean in, we all have to draw breath. We will all have to give a little, but it is in UK plc’s best interest.
I am no standard bearer for Boris Johnson but I hope in a modest way I am a standard bearer for UK plc and for business. Some people will say I was a Remainer and I changed my mind. Well, yes I have, but with good reason.
If we can get this deal done, most of the energy that has been consumed by Brexit can be turned outward to do good trade deals and build a better future.
Business people have been totally focused on dealing with the prospect of a hard Brexit. We need to get past that and look to boosting our exports and relationships outside Europe.
The Government now needs to concentrate on totally backing business. Under Theresa May the Government didn’t have a great rapport, and Boris a few months ago didn’t appear to be particularly business-oriented.
Our future prosperity depends on us being able to do this deal and other trade deals around the world.
Once a deal is done the Government can say: Let’s invest in infrastructure, let’s get policies in place to make the UK the best possible place to do business.
It will also leave us free to deal with other issues that have been on ice, such as education, training, skills and infrastructure planning. After Brexit, we will stand alone. We therefore need to have the right resources and human skills and invest in our young people.
My message to MPs today is to think very hard before you abstain or vote against this deal. This is not about big business, it is about people’s jobs and lives. Every single person I have spoken to recently – across a wide spectrum of society – just wants clarity and the ability to plan their lives.
This is not about me – it is about our children and grandchildren
The later we start the process of Brexit, the longer it will take and the more damage will be caused by delay and in this very competitive world, every second counts.
I believe business wants a deal, the public wants a deal I believe it is the right thing to do.