Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “completely inappropriate” for big businesses to issue warnings about the uncertainties around Brexit.
Speaking to the BBC, Hunt suggested that Airbus and BMW, which this week slammed the lack of clarity on a deal, are actually undermining prime minister Theresa May during her negotiations with the European Union.
He said: “I just thought it’s completely inappropriate for businesses to be making these kinds of threats for one very simple reason. We are in an absolutely critical moment in the Brexit discussions and what that means is we need to get behind Theresa May to deliver… a clean Brexit.
“The more we undermine Theresa May, the more likely we are to end up with a fudge.”
Hunt’s comments come after a week of sustained attack by business leaders on the UK government. BMW board member Ian Robertson said the firm needed clarity on the UK’s talks with the EU by the end of summer. The company employs about 8,000 people in the UK.
And earlier this week, The Times reported that Airbus was planning to leave the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Should either business move, it could cost the UK economy billions, and thousands of jobs.
The Sunday Times reported that the UK’s top five business lobby groups have warned Theresa May that businesses are queuing up to move jobs out of Britain. The groups include the CBI, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the manufacturing organisation the EEF, and the Federation of Small Business.
Hunt insisted that the “siren voices” should remain silent and let May get on with the negotiations.
He said: “[She] has the instincts of a Brexiteer but the cautious pragmatism of a remainder,” he said. “What businesses want is stability… which is exactly why she negotiated a transition deal.”