Theresa May’s failure to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament is having a “very real effect” on companies in Greater Birmingham, business leaders said today.
The Prime Minister’s latest attempt to push through her EU Withdrawal Agreement was defeated this evening by a margin of 149 votes.
This was the second defeat for Mrs May’s deal, having been rejected by a record margin of 230 votes on January 15.
Since then, she has been attempting to renegotiate the controversial ‘Irish Backstop’ element of the agreement.
However, new assurances from Mrs May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proved too little, too late to win backing from the DUP and sceptics within the Conservative Party.
MPs will now vote on Wednesday as to whether the UK can leave the EU without a deal.
If they vote against leaving without a deal, there will be a further vote on Thursday on whether to request an extension to Article 50 negotiations.
The UK is still due to leave the European Union at 11pm on 29 March.
New data revealed by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce suggests local businesses are not ready for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
In a poll of more than 300 local businesses, one sixth felt “not at all prepared”, 44 per cent felt “somewhat prepared” and 16 per cent felt “very prepared”.
A quarter revealed they “don’t know” how prepared their business is.
Henrietta Brealey (pictured), director of policy at the GBCC, said: “It appears that May and Junker’s last minute intervention was too little too late to win over MPs on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
“With just 16 days to go until Brexit we are once again at an impasse. This political game playing is having a very real effect on local businesses.
“Almost a quarter of businesses responding to our latest Quarterly Business Report survey cited Brexit related factors as their top business concern.
“At best the forthcoming votes can give businesses clarity on whether the UK will leave the EU on the 29 March without a deal or whether it will seek an extension to negotiations.
“They do not give us any indication of how the Government intends to break this deadlock and deliver real answers on what Brexit will mean for British businesses.
“The majority of businesses tell us that they are not fully prepared for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. A significant proportion are also unaware of how prepared their business is, suggesting a lack of communication and awareness within those organisations on their Brexit strategies.
“I would urge all businesses not to stick their head in the sand and brief up on Brexit so that they are in the best possible place to navigate whatever comes out of this precarious situation.
“The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are here to help with a wide range of support, events and resources.”