Business leaders welcome rejection of no-deal Brexit but urge action

Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons on Wednesday Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

Business leaders have welcomed the vote by MPs to reject no-deal Brexit under any circumstances.

Firms urged the government to turn the development into action.

The pound appeared to rise significantly after the vote on Wednesday as fluctuations in Sterling were driven by "politics instead of economics", according to one expert.

MPs have "voted in the interests of businesses and households" by voting to rule out leaving the EU without a deal, according to the City of London Corporation's policy chairwoman Catherine McGuinness.

The move is a "victory for common sense", she said.

Ms McGuinness added: "Crashing out of the European Union without a deal would be an unprecedented act of self-sabotage.

"But in order to stave off this costly economic own goal, Parliament now needs to act swiftly to make today’s rejection of no-deal a reality by voting to extend Article 50 and give breathing room for a solution to be found."

She also urged the EU to be "pragmatic" in its response and agree to an extension, adding: "Business needs certainty to thrive."

Dr Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), warned a "messy and disorderly exit" from the EU is still a "clear and present danger".

He added: "The reality is that without action, businesses still face an uncontrolled exit that they neither want nor are ready for.

"It's all well and good that Parliament has said it doesn’t want a no-deal exit but without concrete action its gestures are meaningless for business.

"Extending Article 50 is now a necessity but it’s no silver bullet for businesses, many of whom fear endless uncertainty.

"A deadline that is continuously pushed back isn't a deadline, it's an invitation to cancel investment, stop hiring or move UK operations somewhere else."

Leaving the EU without a deal would be an "unforgivable act of economic and social self-harm", according to Hugh Savill, director of regulation at the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

He added: "It is now essential that this is put on a firm, legislative footing.

"Given how much time is left, an extension to Article 50 seems inevitable and is certainly preferable to no-deal by accident."

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturing organisation Make UK, welcomed the vote result "wholeheartedly".

He said: “"We hope the Government listens and finds a way to make this opinion legally binding.

"It is then imperative that Government and Parliament work together to quickly identify a sensible and pragmatic pathway for the future that ends the damaging uncertainty causing havoc to business."

Dean Turner, UK economist at UBS Wealth Management, said the pound had built on gains made earlier on Wednesday.

He added: "But be in no doubt that the Brexit process remains extremely fluid, with many twists and turns ahead."