Commenting on the result, as well as the possible implications for the UK’s business community, IoD director general Simon Walker said: “While this may not have been the result that the majority of our members wanted, Britain has voted to leave the EU, and it is now imperative that our political leaders manage the transition as smoothly as possible.
The IoD represents the interests of British business and Walker says that it is imperative for the government to support companies and directors across the UK through what will be an extraordinary period of constitutional and legislative change.
“The weeks and months ahead are going to be a nervy time for business leaders, so they have to know that the government is focused on restoring stability while a new relationship with the EU is established.”
Despite his concerns, Walker is convinced that British firms can continue to be successful provided a new deal can be struck with the 27 nations that will make up the EU.
“British businesses are resilient and, with their characteristic ingenuity, they will weather this storm. It is now beholden on politicians to negotiate a deal with European leaders which preserves the ability of British firms to trade easily with the remaining member states. Even once we have left, the EU will continue to be our biggest trading partner, and the first destination for many companies when they start to export.”
Walker has also called upon the government to provide reassurances for EU citizens residing in the UK.
“One thing the government must do immediately is to guarantee the right to remain of EU citizens currently in the UK. Companies do not want to have to worry about losing valued staff.”
Prime minister to resign
Responding to the statements by the prime minister and the governor of the Bank of England this morning, Walker said:
“It was important that the prime minister outlined his plans quickly. Now that we know that he will be leaving before the Conservative party conference, we look forward to him keeping the ship of government steady while a new leader is found. Business will welcome a pause so that the heat can be taken out of the situation before Article 50 is triggered and the formal process for leaving the EU begins.
“In the short-term, David Cameron has reassured the country that nothing will change for firms employing EU citizens, or for businesses’ trading relationships. For those wishing to replace him, we urge top priority is placed on negotiating a new arrangement that gives UK companies access to the single market, and the much-needed skills of EU workers.
“Governor Carney has done what he can to reassure businesses that the Bank of England will take the measures it thinks necessary to ensure financial stability. Companies will adjust to whatever trading relationship eventually emerges, and will be putting their faith in the Bank and the Treasury to help them ride out the inevitable uncertainty that faces them now.”
How can business prepare for the changes ahead?
Following the referendum vote, many businesses will be wondering how they prepare for the changes ahead. The IoD’s Business Information Service has compiled a briefing document containing opinion and guidance of what the vote to leave the EU means for business. The briefing contains information on business continuity, procurement and supply chains, cyber security and employment of staff from outside the UK. Read the full briefing here.