Hospitality industry leaders have called for politicians to clarify the country’s future and rule out a no deal Brexit after the Prime Minister’s plans were defeated yet again.
Theresa May’s revised deal – which outlined the future relationship between Britain and the EU – was defeated by 149 votes in Westminster last night, in her second attempt to move forward on Brexit with parliament’s approval. The vote marked the fourth largest defeat of a government bill in history – with the largest being the first time the Prime Minister attempted to pass her agreement on 15 January.
Now business leaders have urged politicians to agree on the future of the country and abate the hospitality industry’s concerns.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector has historically proven resilient and innovative, but the unprecedented confusion and uncertainty since the referendum has provided stern tests with no relief seemingly in sight.
“A no deal Brexit would be dreadful news for the sector and many businesses will face serious disruption if we crash out without a deal. Parliament needs to move to rule out such an outcome and then act swiftly and decisively to ensure we avoid it.
“In the meantime, and at the very least, all other business needs to be put on hold as a matter of urgency. We need to devote our time to addressing the challenges a no deal Brexit is inevitably going to produce and there just is no option of doing business as usual.”
Two major votes will now follow, with MPs casting a non-binding vote tonight (Wednesday 13 March) to object to a no-deal Brexit; and voting again tomorrow (Thursday 14 March) on pushing back the date Britain will start its departure from the EU by extending Article 50. If no course of action is approved before 29 March, the UK will automatically leave the EU without a deal, causing chaos at the nation’s borders and threatening its delicate food supply system.
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright CBE added: “Tonight’s result is another body blow for the country and the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. As we teeter on the brink of the cliff edge, just seventeen days’ away, confidence in our political leaders is almost gone.
“We can only hope that members of Parliament, tomorrow and on Thursday, will vote decisively – and act accordingly – to take a 29 March no-deal exit off the table. We now need breathing space in which a clear way forward can be found.”