A hundred top UK business leaders, mostly chairs and chief executives of top FTSE companies including household names like Sainsbury’s, RBS, BT, AON, HSBC, TSB and Dixons Carphone, have delivered a damning verdict on the negative impact of a potential hard or “no deal” Brexit, with only 1% seeing this as positive for their companies.
Polled at a dinner in London last night hosted by the global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, and addressed by former Chancellor George Osborne, their collective view came hours after the launch of the first economic impact report of a hard Brexit by the Economists for Free Trade (EFT) group. Supported by Brexiteers, this foresees a boost to UK revenues of £80 billion over 15 years.
However almost 57% of chair and CEOs told Odgers Berndtson they are not confident about the medium term UK economic outlook, with almost 3% describing themselves as “terrified”.
When asked by the firm to give their preferred outcome for the Brexit negotiations – with the outlook for their companies in mind – over half wanted to stop it altogether (53%), and 41% preferred an interim or transition arrangement.
Only 1% said a hard Brexit would be positive for their business. The vast majority however, at 75%, said they were concerned or very concerned that the UK leaving without a deal would have a significant impact and impose “material disruption and cost” to their businesses.
”Brexit is, in my view, an historic mistake,” former Chancellor George Osborne said in a keynote speech to business leaders at the Odgers Berndtson dinner, “and the most likely outcome is the UK entering a semi-permanent transition where the only thing that changes is that we give up the control we currently have.”