Britain's May to consult business leaders on Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May will meet GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L, Vodafone VOD.L and HSBC HSBA.L and other major companies on Monday to hear what they want from talks on Britain's relationship with the EU after Brexit.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip leave church in her constituency near Reading, Britain October 8, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Businesses have become increasingly alarmed by the slow progress of negotiations and the prospect that the country could crash out of the trading bloc without a deal in 2019.

They have also complained that their voice has been drowned out by disagreement and division in the government, and they have not heard anything to give them the certainty they need to plan and invest in their businesses.

The government sought to reset its relationship with employers by setting up a business advisory council in June, shortly after May lost her majority in a bungled election.

She will meet the leaders on Monday with her authority further diminished by a disastrous party conference and an attempt to topple her by a group of her lawmakers.

However, she will set out a confident pitch, based on her goal to achieve a transitional period so that companies could benefit from a smooth, orderly exit.

“Last month in Florence I set out my vision for a bold and unique new economic partnership with the EU,” she said ahead of Monday’s meeting.

“We are working hard to achieve this and are optimistic about our future as a global, free-trading nation.”

May will be joined by finance minister Philip Hammond, business minister Greg Clark, minister for exiting the EU David Davis and trade minister Liam Fox at the council.

Companies attending will also include Balfour Beatty BALF.L, WPP WPP.L, Morgan Stanley MS.N and AB Foods ABF.L, the government said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by David Evans