Five business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), have called for the government to secure continued access to the European single market until a final Brexit deal can be struck with the EU.
The letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark calls for the government to 'put the economy first', and to 'prioritise an early agreement on guarantees for EU citizens' already residing in the UK.
A final agreement between the UK and the EU should guarantee certain economic principles, as outlined in the letter. These include securing tariff-free goods trade between the UK and the EU, establishing a flexible system for the movement of labour and skills between the UK and the EU, and protecting the benefits of free trade agreements currently delivered through the EU.
The letter, which is also signed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and manufacturers' organisation the EEF, comes as Brexit Secretary David Davis enters into formal Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Commenting on the negotiations, Mr Davis said: 'I want to reiterate at the outset of these talks that the UK will remain a committed partner and ally of our friends across the continent. And while there is a long road ahead, our destination is clear – a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU. A deal like no other in history.'
The UK is set to leave the EU by the end of March 2019.