LONDON – Business leaders expressed alarm on Thursday as a draft Brexit agreement seen as the only chance of preserving some stability in UK-EU trading relations threatened to unravel, sending stock prices and the pound plunging.
Just 12 hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her cabinet had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.
Their departures and those of other, junior ministers, revived the spectre for business of Britain leaving the EU without a deal next March, and sent shares in British housebuilders, retailers and banks tumbling.
“The situation this morning saps the confidence of the City and the country,” said Martin Sorrell, former chief executive and founder of ad agency group WPP and one of Britain’s best-known businessmen.
The EU is Britain’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 44 percent of UK exports and 53 percent of imports to the UK.