Ikea UK chief calls for Brexit transition period and government clarity

Gillian Drakeford’s comments come after another fraught week in which Britain’s divorce talks with the EU failed to advance.

The UK chief of Ikea has thrown her weight behind a Brexit transition period as pressure mounts on the government to sign a deal to protect Britain’s businesses from a “cliff edge” departure from the EU.

Gillian Drakeford also demanded clarity from the prime minister as companies brace for a new trading relationship with Europe’s single market.

She told the Press Association: “I’d like to see some clarity. Theresa May talked about a transition period and this would be beneficial for us to adapt to a new trading reality, to allow us to offer products at the best prices.”

Her comments come after another fraught week for the government in which divorce talks failed to advance to trade and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, said a “cloud of uncertainty” was hanging over the economy.

A number of business leaders are thought to have pressed the Conservatives to ensure a transition period at a summit earlier this month attended by the likes of GSK’s boss, Emma Walmsley, WPP’s chief, Martin Sorrell and Vodafone’s head, Vittorio Colao.

The CBI also says businesses will be reluctant to take big investment decisions until they have more clarity on Britain’s future. “When you talk to businesses, what they want most is certainty on EU negotiations and having a transitional deal,” said its chief economist, Rain Newton-Smith.

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