A key figure in the Cambridgeshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called Theresa May’s Brexit deal a “welcome step back from the no deal cliff edge”.

Malcolm Lyons, area leader for the FSB's Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire region, said the draft withdrawal deal backed by Mrs May's cabinet on November 14 was "good news".

He said: "This is good news for Huntingdonshire small businesses, we need this deal. I hope our local, and other MPs, give it their support. Small businesses can then move forward."

Mr Lyons was speaking after Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly gave his support to the draft deal, echoing Mr Lyons' fear that a no deal would be detrimental for businesses and the country.

Shailesh Vara, the MP for North West Cambridgeshire, was critical of the prime minister's deal, however, saying it would leave the country in a "half-way house". He resigned as a minister in the Northern Ireland office.

The FSB's national chairman, Mike Cherry, said: "With 20 weeks left until exit day, many small businesses will be relieved to finally see some progress being made. An agreed draft withdrawal agreement is a significant step back from the cliff edge which would result in a chaotic no deal Brexit that would be deeply damaging and dangerous for our small firms.

"If this deal passes parliament, small businesses will be given the security of a transition period which will allow them to carry on operating as they do now from March 29, 2019, until at least the end of 2020. This brings with it some certainty that our small businesses have craved.

"It will hopefully lead to businesses pushing the go button on investment decisions that have been on pause as they waited for a better understanding of the medium term trading landscape post Brexit day.

"Negotiations must now move quickly onto nailing down our future trading relationship with the EU post July 2020. Whatever option is agreed upon, it is essential that our small firms are given sufficient time and support to prepare for any changes.

"A deal is now on the table and it is important that the UK Government and EU press ahead as this is the best chance of avoiding a catastrophic cliff edge that would disproportionately harm smaller businesses who are the engine of the UK economy."