Executives from some of Britain’s biggest businesses will hold talks with the Brexit Secretary later this month, days after the Government is due to set out plans for the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Sky News has learnt that David Davis has invited the bosses of FTSE-100 and major international companies from across the economy to a summit at Chevening House, the country residence he shares with two other Cabinet ministers.
It will be the first such meeting that Mr Davis has convened with business leaders since last autumn.
According to the invitation circulated to dozens of bosses, the Brexit Secretary is keen “to use this opportunity to assemble another group of business leaders from across the economy, including some new voices who were unable to join us last time, to continue the dialogue”.
The Chevening meeting has been arranged for 20 July, roughly a week after ministers are expected to publish a white paper that Theresa May has promised will outline a “detailed and precise” vision for the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe.
The Prime Minister will hold a meeting with Cabinet colleagues this Friday at which a new plan for future customs arrangements, navigating a path between pro-Brexit and pro-Remain ministers, will be discussed.
A source said the meeting between Mr Davis and business leaders would provide an opportunity for him to rebuild bridges with the private sector following weeks of confrontation which culminated in Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, saying “F*ck business” during a diplomatic event.
Image: British Brexit minister David Davis
Relations between the Government and business leaders who favour a so-called ‘soft Brexit’ have been strained since the June 2016 referendum, with five major lobbying groups last week demanding an end to the impasse with EU negotiators.
A recent warning from Airbus about the impact of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ on its supply chain and consequences for its British manufacturing operations has further strained relations with ministers.
It has also thrown into sharper focus the behind-the-scenes discussions taking place between soft-Brexiters such as Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, and major UK inward investors.
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While ministers have sought to reassure bosses that there will not be a cliff-edge in terms of trading arrangements and relationships, companies are moving to activate contingency plans in case a satisfactory agreement can be reached.
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) declined to comment on the Chevening meeting.