LONDON — The plot to reverse Brexit is missing a key ally: U.K. business. Companies have been among the most outspoken critics of the split from the European Union, and have much to lose from a divorce gone wrong. But as a group of lawmakers tries to engineer a second referendum, business leaders are recoiling.
"Business likes certainty and I can't see how discussion of a second referendum helps create that certainty when the negotiations are not even concluded," says Miles Celic, chief executive officer of TheCityUK, the finance industry's lobby group.
Businesses are uninterested in politics. They want commercial predictability.
The campaign for a popular vote on the final divorce deal that Prime Minister Theresa May brings back from Brussels later this year is gaining a bit of traction. Two recent polls have indicated there may be popular support for a vote on the terms of Brexit. The Institute for Government think tank sees a mechanism for Parliament to engineer another plebiscite later this year.
Financial district, London — Photo: Rob Bye
It's worth remembering that there's no evidence a second referendum would produce a different result and it's far from clear there's a majority in Parliament to send weary voters back to the ballot box. There would be much debate on the question posed, and there would probably have to be some kind of extension to the Brexit day deadline. Pound investors also reckon sterling – now at post-referendum highs – would take a hit.
"Businesses are uninterested in politics. They want commercial predictability," said Paul Hardy, Brexit director at law firm DLA Piper. "Those who have spent a lot of money on it are ready to deal with it."