In an open letter to the Conservative Party leadership contenders, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said leaving Europe without a deal could cause long-term damage to the country’s competitiveness and candidates should “demonstrate that good business is good for society.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI Director-General, wrote to candidates yesterday in a bid to stave off the very real threat of a no deal Brexit as the two major political parties, the Conservatives and Labour, have polarised. The Tory leaders are vying over who can offer the hardest Brexit, while Labour is seeking to limit its losses by appealing to “remainers” and offering voters greater government intervention in the economy.
Fairbairn wrote, “Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward. Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one. The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME [small to medium enterprises] members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.”
She added that to find a way out of the political impasse over Brexit there needed to be “compromise, consensus and honesty” because the prolonged uncertainty is driving up costs and reducing sales.
In an interview with the BBC, Fairbairn warned that Brexit had already cost the country some £800 billion ($1 trillion) in investment and that while larger companies were capable of preparing for a no deal Brexit, some 80 percent of small to medium enterprises had insufficient resources to manage the demands of such a dramatic change in regulatory circumstances and adapt to the new market situation in which they would find themselves.
The CBI calls on the next Prime Minister to, “Work with us in a new era of partnership to build a post-Brexit Britain that is both prosperous and fair.”
According to the Confederation, government must show that Britain is a great place for business, while also lifting “the modern industrial strategy from textbook to reality.” In addition, a partnership between government and business must demonstrate that what is good for commerce is also good for society.