Graham Robb, chairman of the Institute of Directors, North East, said:
“There is no time for political recriminations. The first priority is to steady the economy and our political leadership should come together to heal divisions. In business it is time for cools heads to make best of a new era. The Bank of England has rightly reassured the world that it has the capability to ease market turbulence. Given that the Prime Minister has resigned to enable a new leader to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU, I will attend to my business as usual and I’m sure IoD members will keep calm and carry on.
“There are opportunities in the years ahead; the UK should promote widespread free trade with an international outlook, not retreat into any kind of isolation.
“The Prime Minister deserves credit for an honourable resignation speech and, although his legacy will always be our departure from the EU, he should also be remembered for returning the country to economic growth and changing the focus of London Government towards our ‘Northern Powerhouse’, something I hope will continue under his successor.”
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“While this may not have been the result that the majority of our members wanted, Britain has voted to leave the EU, and it is now imperative that our political leaders manage the transition as smoothly as possible. The weeks and months ahead are going to be a nervy time for business leaders, so they need to know that the Government is focussed on maintaining stability while a new relationship with the EU is established.
“British businesses are resilient and, with their characteristic ingenuity, they will weather this storm. It is now beholden on politicians to negotiate a deal with European leaders which preserves the ability of British firms to trade easily with the remaining member states. Even once we have left, the EU will continue to be our biggest trading partner, and the first destination for many companies when they start to export. One thing the Government must do immediately is to guarantee the right to remain of EU citizens currently in the UK. Companies do not want to have to worry about losing valued staff.”
Before the referendum, a survey of IoD members revealed that, despite concerns about the effect of Brexit on trade and access to skills, businesses leaders saw potential improvements to employment regulations. Half of directors thought that the UK could be an economic success outside of the EU.
The IoD will be running a snap poll of its members on what the referendum result means for business. The results will be released for publication on Monday morning.