Over 70 business leaders demand second referendum

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Over 70 business leaders, including numerous high-profile retail figures, have demanded a second “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal.

Former M&S chairman Lord Myners, Waterstones’ chief executive James Daunt and Sainsbury’s former chief executive Justin King are among the signatories of an open letter published in The Sunday Times.

Ahead of the launch of a new campaign led by Business for a People’s Vote later this week, the group have called for a second referendum on the eventual deal secured by Prime Minister Theresa May, and warned of the stark financial consequences of a poor or no deal situation.

“The business community was promised that, if the country voted to leave, there would continue to be frictionless trade with the EU and the certainty about future relations that we need to invest for the long term,” the group stated in the letter.

“Despite the prime minister’s best efforts, the proposals being discussed by the government and the European Commission fall far short of this, and they are not nearly as good as the current deal we have inside the EU.

“The uncertainty over the past two years has already led to a slump in investment, which will make our country poorer.

“We are now facing either a blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit. Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a people’s vote.”

Despite the growing calls for a second referendum in both public and business circles, following a demonstration of around 700,000 protestors on the “people’s march” last month, the government has remained firm on their position and dashed any hope of another vote.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister has been clear — no second referendum… We had a people’s vote — it was in June 2016.”

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