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LONDON: A record 75 per cent of major British companies are now pessimistic about Brexit, a survey showed on Monday, adding to signs of anxiety around the economy as Britain’s divorce with the European Union draws near.

Weak investment and waning expectations for sales marked Deloitte’s latest quarterly survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), watched by the Bank of England as a gauge of business confidence.

The proportion of CFOs who said Brexit was likely to hurt the business environment was up from 68pc in the previous Deloitte CFO survey published in April.

With nine months to go until Britain leaves the EU, Deloitte said more large British companies than at any time since late 2012 had adopted a defensive financial strategy.

The accountancy firm’s report chimed with a Lloyds Bank survey last week that showed optimism across British businesses about the outlook has faded to its lowest level this year.

Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019 but a transitional trade agreement has still to be finalised amid disagreements among Prime Minister Theresa May’s team over Britain’s future relationship with Europe.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018