An extension to the negotiations “comes with costs and uncertainty,” Josh Hardie, the deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in an interview. Businesses “place their bets on other countries” if Britain is no longer perceived as a gateway to Europe.
“That’s already happening — it’s not something that will just happen with Brexit,” he said.
Roni Savage, the director at Jomas Associates, an engineering consulting firm with 15 employees, has already seen the knock-on effect of the Brexit impasse.
Her firm surveys ground conditions for construction companies. Half of her construction clients, she said, have started slowing new projects, like housing, because it is not clear whether demand will hold up after Brexit.
“We get affected very quickly by issues with the economy, and Brexit is a huge one,” Ms. Savage said.
“It’s a nightmare,” she added. “I’m really saddened by having another extension, having to wait for longer. We’ll all be hoping to get this over soon.”
Farmers expressed the same concerns.
“We have crops and livestock in fields, with farmers and growers still in the dark about what trading environment they will be operating in, whether they will have access to a sufficient work force to carry out essential roles this season, or what the U.K.’s future domestic agricultural policy will look like,” Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers’ Union, said in a statement.
Even an extension and a withdrawal agreement would be only the beginning of negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, said Tim Durrant, a senior researcher at the Institute for Government, a think tank. “We’re in the long haul for Brexit, I’m afraid.”