Business groups forecast a “nervy time ” ahead for industry and urged the government to do all it could to maintain stability.
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “While this may not have been the result that the majority of our members wanted, Britain has voted to leave the EU, and it is now imperative that our political leaders manage the transition as smoothly as possible.
The weeks and months ahead are going to be a nervy time for business leaders, so they need to know that the Government is focused on maintaining stability while a new relationship with the EU is established.
“It is now beholden on politicians to negotiate a deal with European leaders which preserves the ability of British firms to trade easily with the remaining member states.
“Even once we have left, the EU will continue to be our biggest trading partner, and the first destination for many companies when they start to export.
“One thing the Government must do immediately is to guarantee the right to remain of EU citizens currently in the UK. Companies do not want to have to worry about losing valued staff.”
Dr Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “In the wake of the electorate’s historic decision to leave the European Union, the immediate priorities for UK business are market stability and political clarity.
“Some businesspeople will be pleased with the result, and others resigned to it. Yet all companies will expect swift, decisive, and coordinated action from the government and the Bank of England to stabilise markets if trading conditions or the availability of capital change dramatically.
“Firms across the UK want an immediate and unambiguous statement from the Prime Minister on next steps, along with a clear timeline for the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“Business will also want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period – as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty.
“If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it.”