British Prime Minister Theresa May tells wary business leaders the UK is committed to securing a transitional deal once Britain leaves the EU. But, as Ciara Lee reports, her political weakness has left many fearing a cliff-edge departure is on the cards.
Facing the group arguably most concerned about a cliff edge departure from the EU... Britain's business leaders. Taking to the stage of the Confederation of British Industry, Prime Minister Theresa May sought to calm the waters. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, SAYING: "We should be excited by the possibilities which this new relationship presents for the future. So as we look ahead to the next 10 years of Britain's economy, we should do so as rational optimists. There are huge opportunities ahead." But business leaders are rattled by the slow progress of Brexit negotiations And have been pressing for months for more details about what a transitional trade deal would actually look like. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "We need to get full agreement that this is something that will happen and then will need to negotiate the details of course some of those details you need to know what the end state is what that future partnership is. Because this is about practical change moving to that future partnership. Businesses should be able to have the comfort of knowing they'll be able to operate on the same basis as they currently are during that implementation period." Driving concerns though - new car registrations in Britain fell over 12 percent in October as demand fell across the market. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "Much of that is on the back of declining business and consumer confidence. There have been some indications of this over the last few months. But this is a fairly stark one especially as this marks the seventh month of decline consecutively. And of course it all goes back to the uncertainty around Brexit." Some business leaders are taking May's apparent optimism on board. Believing that the long-term impact on the economy will be worth it - once Britain can set its own rules.