Some of Britain’s top company bosses have been summoned for talks with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, amid mounting private sector concerns over the scope of a potential transition deal.
Sky News has learnt that the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has circulated invitations this week to captains of industry to discuss the series of position papers published by the Government in recent weeks.
The meeting between Mr Davis and business leaders, which will follow a similar summit held in July, will take place on 15 September at Chevening House, the country residence he shares with two other Cabinet ministers.
A source said on Wednesday that Mr Davis’s invitation said he wanted to discuss views on the position papers “outlining our approach to both withdrawal and to our future economic partnership with the EU”.
“It will be particularly helpful to hear these views ahead of the October European Council and the next round of negotiations I will be leading,” the source added.
The Chevening talks reflect a desire on ministers’ part to be seen as adopting a more pro-business approach following months of criticism of the muted relationship between the Government and private sector bosses before the General Election.
A new business liaison group has been established by Mr Davis, Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, and Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, while the Prime Minister has also begun holding formal meetings with the heads of major employers.
The papers published during the summer – which covered issues such as citizens’ rights, the use of data and the future jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – were criticised this week by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president.
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Likely attendees at next month’s Chevening talks include executives from major business groups such as the CBI and British Chambers of Commerce – both of which are also represented on Theresa May’s trade visit to Japan this week.
There has been growing frustration among business leaders about the lack of material progress on possible transition arrangements for the period after March 2019, when the UK will cease to be a full member of the EU.
While ministers have sought to reassure bosses that there will not be a cliff-edge in terms of trading arrangements and relationships, companies are moving to activate contingency plans in case a satisfactory agreement can be reached.
The shape of a future trade deal with the EU is also expected to be raised by bosses at next month’s meeting, according to several senior executives.
DExEU declined to comment on Wednesday.
Source: Sky News