A failure to engage with business interests during the Brexit negotiations could have dire consequences for companies, according to the former chief of staff to Tony Blair.
The warning comes from Jonathan Powell, who is helping to lead a new pan-European project, Brexit Exchange. It aims to ensure the views of business sectors are heard by UK and EU negotiators as they hammer out details of Brexit.
Powell, writing in The Times, said: “The Brexit negotiations will be extraordinarily tough and may indeed extend beyond the two-year duration or break down altogether.
“What is clear is that unless there is real and detailed engagement and dialogue with British and European business then the outcome of these negotiations will be even worse in terms of jobs, exports and enterprise than anyone has so far imagined.”
Powell said Brexit Exchange will “gather proposals and concerns sector by sector” to ensure that the consequences of Brexit are “intended rather than accidental”.
Powell, who will co-chair the group with Steffen Kampeter of the German Employers’ Association (BDA), said: “The danger with this top-down approach to negotiations is that key requirements for individual businesses will get lost.
“We will find ourselves going into the transitional measures in two years time with many unintended consequences and unanticipated problems for exporters on both sides of the Channel. It would be unfair to expect the civil servants who are negotiating these largely political agreements to understand the detailed implications for all sectors of European business.”