HAMPSHIRE’S top lobby group for business has welcomed the government’s Brexit deal – but warned: “We’ve been here before”.

Boris Johnson and the European Union revealed their agreement yesterday, ahead of a special sitting of Parliament tomorrow.

But the prime minister faces a challenge in getting the deal through the House of Commons, with his allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party intending to vote against it.

Ross McNally, executive chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Wherever they stand on Brexit, our members have continually told us that they want to see certainty in the future trading partnership between the UK and the EU.

“It has been a rocky road up to now, with years of negotiations and the previous agreement failing to secure parliamentary support.

“We of course welcome today’s announcement of a proposed new agreement but given that we have been here before. The fear is that a similar scenario will play out and further uncertainty will prevail.

“We call on politicians to recognise the implications for businesses in Hampshire and across the UK if the current Brexit impasse continues.

“Businesses desperately need and deserve a clear model of what working political relationship is going to emerge so they can get back to planning and investing with confidence.

“Until we know the finer detail and what support parliament will ultimately give, our message to businesses is to continue being pragmatic and make contingency plans for all possible Brexit scenarios.”

The Brexit deal would create a legal customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, although in practice the border would be between Great Britain and the island of Ireland.

UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, would keep their residency and social security rights.

There would be a transition period until December 2020, when the UK would abide by EU rules and pay into its budget. This could be extended by one or two years but no longer.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “After three years of uncertainty that has stalled planning, hampered investment and slowed growth, a last-minute Brexit deal now seems within reach


Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith tweeted: “The prime minister has negotiated a deal which will allow us to leave the EU in an orderly way. It’s time to get behind him and the deal and get Brexit done.”

But Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said the deal was "far worse" than Theresa May's rejected deal and "paves the way for a decade of deregulation". He added: "It gives Johnson licence to slash workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protections."