A YORKSHIRE entrepreneur is among more than 30 business people to sign an open letter calling on the Prime Minister to maintain Britain’s access to the single market after it leaves the European Union.
Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks, warned leaving the single market would be “destructive” to the British economy.
Single market access will be one of the key issues in the Brexit talks with Brussels Theresa May is set to open before the end of March.
The letter from the Open Britain campaign group says single market access is critical to entrepreneurs as “new companies have access to the world’s largest free trading marketplace and can expand and employ more rapidly”.
It also warns that rapidly cutting the number of migrants coming to the UK “risks denying entrepreneurs access to the skills and talent they need”.
Mr Reed said: “There is no mandate for the kind of hard, destructive Brexit that will harm Britain’s enduring entrepreneurial spirit.
“If the Government is serious about supporting the economy of the future, then it should listen to some of Britain’s leading entrepreneurs and put staying in the single market at the heart of their negotiating plan.”
Amid continuing fallout from the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as Britain’s permanent representative in Brussels, his very public departure was criticised by a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher.
Lord (Charles) Powell, who was Lady Thatcher’s private secretary from 1983-90, said that civil servants who feel unable to implement a policy because of personal disagreements should “discreetly ask to be relieved of their post”.
Sir Ivan’s shock resignation as permanent representative in Brussels on Tuesday was followed by a devastating email in which he complained of a lack of preparation for withdrawal talks and urged colleagues to challenge “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking” by politicians.
Leading Brexiteers accused the diplomat of “sour grapes”, but a series of senior former Whitehall mandarins rallied around him and backed his assertion of the importance of civil servants being ready to “speak the truth to those in power”.
In a letter to The Times, Lord Powell said: “It is not the role of civil servants to flounce out of their job because they don’t like a specific policy, or can’t understand the policy or even think there is no policy. That is a privilege for politicians.
“Many civil servants loyally implement policies with which they personally disagree because they are the policies of an elected government which they are employed to serve.
“If they feel they cannot implement a policy effectively, then they should discreetly ask to be relieved of their post without leaving an elaborate statement of their reasons or posthumous soliloquy which is all too likely to become public, even if that is not intended.”