The campaign group Leave Means Leave has written to the Chambers of Commerce in all 27 other EU members to open up post-Brexit trade talks.
It follows the former head of the German version of the CBI – Hans-Olaf Henkel – using an interview with the Daily Express to attack German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commision President Jean-Claude Juncker for threatening to raise trade tariffs with the UK.
He warned that tariffs will harm Germany and the EU more than Britain because the bloc risks losing a £30 billion trade surplus.
In its Leave Means Leaves calls on the Chambers of Commerce to give their backing for a “sensible agreement regarding the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU” ,
The group will be embarking on a tour of many of these Chambers of Commerce in Europe in the New Year to reinforce the message that a zero tariff deal is mutually beneficial and that British businesses are partners in commerce.
The letter from Leave Means Leave co-chairmen Richard Tice and John Longworth (former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce) urges the heads of each Chambers of Commerce to “make representations to your government in order to encourage a good outcome in the spirit of enlightened self-interest.”
They warn that as many EU member states export such significant amounts of goods to the UK, any trade barriers implemented by the European Commission “will have a detrimental effect on jobs and prosperity in a number of EU states, some where unemployment is already unacceptably high”.
The businessmen argue that it is in the interests of the EU and the UK that “trade is not interrupted” and call for a trade deal that “has close to zero tariffs as possible.”
Mr Longworth said: “2017 will be an interesting year with many important elections taking place in EU member states.
“Businesses across Europe will want trade with the UK to continue as usual after Brexit and any hint of trade barriers by the European Commission will be rejected.
“It is vital that these business leaders make representations to their national Governments to ensure that the EU is open for business.”
28th December, 2016: Express