Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit, Cheryl Smart MBE, Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce said:
"In business, what you achieve in a negotiation - not what you bid for - is what really matters.
"The Brexit process is no different. While businesses now have a clearer sense of the Prime Minister's top-line priorities, they will come away from her speech knowing little more about the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations than they did yesterday.
"The simple fact is that businesses all across the UK are carrying on. Directly-affected companies are being pragmatic, and are preparing for a range of possible outcomes.
"Away from Westminster, many businesses are ignoring the Brexit 'noise' completely, and say there needs to be a far bigger focus on getting the basics right here at home. Their message is that Brexit must not become all-consuming, and that having the right skills, infrastructure and business environment across the UK will play a far bigger part in our future success than any eventual Brexit deal."
On the Single Market and Customs Union:
"Many businesses facing immediate post-Brexit impacts have been preparing for the eventuality that the UK would leave both the Single Market and the Customs Union, with some sort of free trade deal to follow. The Prime Minister's remarks largely confirm this, and will lead other firms to think about making similar plans.
“Clarity on barrier-free arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic remain critical to business."
On proposals for a transitional period after Brexit:
"Agreeing a reasonable transitional period that gives directly-affected businesses the breathing space they need to adapt to new realities would simply be common sense."
“If, as the Prime Minister suggested, citizens of the EU-27 are subject to future restrictions, a simple and light-touch system is required. Bringing EU nationals into the costly and bureaucratic Home Office work permit process would be a huge regulatory burden for many businesses, especially when their immediate skills shortages at every level remain acute.”