Theresa May has promised business leaders that she will not let companies fall over a Brexit “cliff edge” amid warnings that the City of London could haemorrhage jobs unless she delivers clarity on her exit strategy soon.

Mrs May told the first meeting of a new Downing Street business council that she aimed to negotiate a transition deal, or what she calls an “implementation phase” , to smooth the exit process after Britain formally leaves the EU in March 2019.

Officials close to the Brexit negotiations say Mrs May will accept an extension of free movement, and that EU citizens should be able to work freely in Britain for a two-year period after exit in March 2019, provided they register with the authorities.

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