Hundreds of business leaders have written to each of the ten Conservative leadership candidates urging them to abandon plans for a no-deal Brexit.

More than 800 business leaders have written a joint letter to the Tory leadership hopefuls, calling on them to avoid a no-deal Brexit that they argue will lead to British business operating under “the worst trading terms in the world”. The signatories of the letter, organised by Business for a People’s Vote, include Lastminute.com founder Martha Lane-Fox, Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed, and form City minister Paul Myners.

They said: “The willingness of so many candidates for the Conservative Party leadership even to consider imposing a No Deal Brexit on the country without the express approval of either Parliament or the people is deeply troubling.

“It would mean falling back on WTO terms — the worst trading terms in the world. Overnight we would go from frictionless trade with countries in Europe and beyond, covering nearly 60% of UK trade, to a system of swingeing tariffs, customs checks and regulatory barriers.

“Such a prospect is already undermining investment and overshadowing planning for the future for any business dependent on trade with the European Union.

“Those of us who once looked to the Conservative Party for government in the national interest are dismayed to see that frontrunners to succeed Theresa May as prime minister are still refusing to take these risks seriously.

“We do not accept that the 2016 referendum, when the idea of a No Deal Brexit was dismissed by some of those who now loudly advocate for it, provided a mandate for leaving the EU in such a fashion. Nor has there been any test of public opinion either through polling or the ballot box that suggests there is a majority for it now.

“We note that Parliament has already made it clear it opposes a humiliating and damaging No Deal Brexit.

“Any Prime Minister or government that sought to force through such a departure from the EU without giving both MPs and the public a final say would be acting against the basic principles of democracy that have served our country so well.”

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