UK small businesses first in line to grill Theresa May over Brexit plans

In a related video, Theresa May tells Angela Merkel: 'We are not walking away from our European friends'Reuters

Britain's small and medium-sized enterprises were first in line to grill Theresa May over the new prime minister's plans to break away from the EU.

The Conservative premier hosted some of employers in Downing Street today (4 August) to discuss the UK's exit negotiations and how the government can help them seize new opportunities.

"From dynamic start-ups to established family firms, our small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our country," May said ahead of the meeting.

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"I want to build an economy that works for all, and that means working with, and listening to, smaller firms. The priorities I have set: a more productive, skilled workforce, an economy balanced across the UK and open to new opportunities, can only be achieved if we listen to these businesses."

Representatives from the British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturing organisation the EEF and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), were among those who took part in the round table.

Martin McTague, the FSB's national policy director, described the summit as "reassuring." He added: "We were able to put across the needs of our members and smaller businesses. FSB members are the backbone to the UK economy and it is crucial that their concerns are put front and centre in the Brexit negotiations.

"Smaller businesses want access to European markets, the ability to hire the right people, reassurance on key EU-funded schemes and a new approach to both regulation and de-regulation. Now more than ever, UK economic growth rests on the future success of our small businesses."

May and her government have so far decided not to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official mechanism to split from the EU. Brexit Secretary David Davis has hinted that it will be triggered in early 2017, suggesting the UK could break away from Brussels in 2019 after two years of talks.

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