November 6, 2017 / 12:31 PM / a year ago

UK business needs clarity on Brexit transition by year-end: BT boss

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, speaks at the Conferederation of British Industry's annual conference in London, Britain, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest telecoms company BT (BT.L) said on Monday that unless businesses were clear by the beginning of 2018 about the terms of a transitional period after Britain leaves the European Union they would need to plan for a damaging “hard Brexit”.

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said the most important thing was to “get some certainty” on a transition period.

He told an audience of business leaders at the CBI’s annual conference that clarity was needed by the beginning of the next calendar year.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier told the conference she wanted Britain and the EU to agree the outlines of any transitional Brexit deal soon, but declined to say whether she was confident the details of a full trade deal will be agreed by October next year.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by James Davey

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