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More firms will leave UK because of Brexit, OECD chief says

  • The OECD secretary-general believes Brexit uncertainty will cause more job losses in the U.K.
  • Angel Gurria said the Brexit impact on Ireland was poorly understood

More companies will leave Britain as Brexit negotiations drag on between the U.K. and the European Union (EU), the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said.

Angel Gurria said Monday that until a deal can be agreed, the British economy will face ongoing headwinds and, as a result, chief executives will take action.

"A number of companies are moving elsewhere or at least partially moving elsewhere," he said. "And this is going to continue in the next few months, perhaps the next couple of years until the actual exit takes place."

The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019 and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said he wants to complete the terms of the departure by fall 2018. But this timetable has come under pressure from the slow progress between the two parties.

Photographer | Collection | Getty Images

Gurria added that Brexit uncertainty was creating costs as investment decisions were either deferred or canceled.

One major area of Brexit uncertainty is how it will affect the border between Northern Ireland, which is still part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which is remaining a part of the EU. Dublin wants a written guarantee that there will be no return to a "hard border" between Ireland and its northern neighbor.

Gurria said there was still a lot of work to be done to understand the implications of Brexit and its effect on Ireland.

"Right now, it is having a very serious impact in Irish politics," he said. "The elimination of the border with Northern Ireland was a very great achievement of the Irish people and the U.K. in general. So you can see the sensitivity."