Ministers must not be caught up in a "never-ending domestic political game" over the customs union and recognise that being a standards-setter is just as critical to post-Brexit success, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will argue today.
Ahead of a Commons debate, tabled by 10 senior backbenchers last week, and as ministers reconvene for another so-called Brexit war committee, BCC director general Adam Marshall will call on the government to "act swiftly" to retain the UKs place at the top table of European standards-setting bodies CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, and CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation.
This is one of a number of "behind the border" issues businesses claim it is vital to tackle, warning their complexity can present greater costs than some tariffs or customs procedures.
Marshall will also highlight the desire for a stronger Westminster focus on improving the domestic business environment – where businesses feel action has stalled.
Speaking at the British Standards Institutions Forum today, he will say: “Various factions in Westminster still appear to be more interested in scoring points in their never-ending domestic political game, rather than working forensically to get the best possible outcome for the UK economy. The customs union debate currently raging is a case in point.
“Standards may be less high profile, but future arrangements here are just as important for business planning… The UK needs to decide whether, after leaving the EU, it will remain a standards-maker, or if it will become a standards-taker. If we do not maintain our commitment to the single standard model – only keeping one set of standards in action for a given product – a standards-taker is exactly what we risk becoming.
“Industry needs a clearer statement of intent from government that the UK will stay committed to being at the forefront of global and European standards – so that UK firms can continue influencing the very standards that they must comply with.”
Marshall will also urge government to "focus on what's in our control, right here in the UK, over the months ahead".
"Instead of more set piece speeches on Brexit, I want to see bold declarations on what government intends to do here in the UK to make our business environment second to none," he will say.