Ian Wright

Ian Wright

The FDF is launching a new manifesto calling on the government to take urgent action to end uncertainty over Brexit.

The six-point plan calls for assurances over the membership of the single market, continued freedoms for migrant workers and clarity over EU-originated regulation.

FDF director general Ian Wright said the industry had not done enough to argue against leaving the EU and now had a duty to make sure it made its voice known. “It may be that business was too trusting - maybe even too complacent - in the run up to the referendum,” he said. “That’s now a stale debate. But we cannot afford to be quiet, cautious or reactive in the weeks and months ahead. So industry needs to be more active and more vocal to make sure our representatives in government understand our concerns and can represent our interests and those of our workforce.”

Wright said continued membership of the single market was the top priority in the manifesto, which he said would now go out to members for a short period of consultation.

“Many manufacturers would struggle to substitute existing EU customers for ones in other parts of the world - including emerging markets - because of differing consumer tastes and limited product shelf lives,” he explained.

The manifesto also calls for the government to maintain the dozens of free trade agreements across the EU.

“We will insist on continued access to the Free Trade Agreements that the EU has secured with 53 countries without need for renegotiation,” said Wright.

The document also calls for urgent clarification on the rights of migrant workers, in the wake of what Wright said had been a string of “shocking” racist attacks.

“The immediate priority for those workers is to support them through this deeply unpleasant climate of ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment and to provide them with speedy reassurance that their future here is absolutely secure and their contribution is valued and warmly welcomed,” he added.

The FDF is also calling for moves to bring regulatory stability and to improve productivity.

And Wright renewed its calls for the government to shelve legislation such as the sugar levy and the apprenticeship levy, warning the civil service did not have the staff to cope amid the Brexit chaos.