Trade bodies have called for certainty after MPs voted to delay Brexit and avoid leaving the European Union without a deal in a series of votes last night (Thursday 14th March).
MPs voted by 413 to 202 to extend Article 50, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying EU leaders could be open to a “long extension”. On Wednesday, MPs voted to reject a no deal Brexit - but the vote was not legally binding and the UK could still leave without a deal on 29th March.
SoA c.e.o. Nicola Solomon welcomed the extension, but warned the industry “desperately needs some certainty.”
Solomon told The Bookseller: “Given where we are, an extension to Article 50 is welcome in order to avoid a catastrophic no deal exit on 29th March. But this still takes us no closer to the final outcome. The process cannot drag on indefinitely and authors and the wider industry desperately need some certainty."
Booksellers Association m.d. Meryl Halls echoed Solomon and called on the EU to guarantee the extension. She said: “The BA welcomes the swerve away from no deal, and the commitment to an extension, but deplores the unease and uncertainty still prevalent in the business community from the unclear Brexit situation. Bookselling is feeling a renewed sense of confidence at the moment and the last thing our fragile retail ecosystem needs is the reduced consumer confidence inevitably flowing from uncertainty. The bookselling community is a valuable contributor to the UK economy and wants to continue to contribute to our cultural landscape, unimpeded by Brexit chaos and external stresses. We hope the EU will accommodate an extension.”
After MPs rejected the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement for a second time on Tuesday, Publishers Association c.e.o. Stephen Lotinga condemned the "prolonged uncertainty". He said: "It is exasperating and, frankly, just not good enough that we find ourselves in this position weeks away from the day the UK is due to leave the EU."
Following a dramatic night in the House of Commons, Theresa May will now try to persuade MPs to support her deal with a third vote on her plans scheduled for 20th March.