CBI chief warns government on Brexit loss of talent and markets

Speaking at the 2016 Annual Conference, CBI president Paul Drechsler warned the government about potential issues British businesses might face if clear plans of Brexit negotiations are not provided.

CBI chief warns UK Government about Brexit
The government must provide a clear plan for British business in Brexit negotiations with Europe or leave the nation's companies facing a "cliff edge scenario", Paul Drechsler, the president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) told the organisation's annual conference on Monday.

The government's position on Brexit

On the morning the conference in London was also addressed by Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Drechsler voiced concern over the fact that nobody knows what the government's negotiating position will be – a complaint voiced by many politicians, though the ministers have defended their position saying they do not want to show their hand before talks with Europe start next spring."When it comes to negotiations, no-one understands the need for discretion better than business," said Mr Drechsler. “We’re not asking for a running commentary – but we are looking for clarity and – above all – a plan. We’ve seen encouraging signs. The government has set a deadline for triggering Article 50; it's given guarantees on EU funding programmes that have already been allocated; and it’s offset uncertainty around Brexit with greater certainty on Heathrow and Hinkley Point."

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He continued, "But in other areas uncertainty remains. Business needs to know we won’t close our borders to Europe’s talent, or lose our privileged access to Europe’s markets."And there’s another important question: what happens on the day after Brexit? When the clock strikes midnight, and our two years’ negotiating time is up? Today, businesses are inevitably considering the cliff edge scenario – a sudden and overnight transformation in trading conditions. "If this happens, firms could find themselves stranded in a regulatory no man’s land. And even if our legal obligations are clear and in place there would also be real, practical implications. Our ports, airports and logistics firms, if faced with new trading rules, could suddenly need new and potentially complex paperwork, which would take more time and money to process."

Businesses ready to make the best of Brexit

Mr Drechsler said that businesses were 100 per cent committed to making the best of Brexit and, in partnership with government, would help ensure a smooth exit from the EU in 2019.He also said the "vast, vast majority" of businesses were a force for good, but warned that the "unacceptable transgressions", which have made people question the value of business as a whole, must be tackled.Mr Drachsler said that, to make the most of Brexit, government and business had to do more than just work together. “We must be two partners with a common cause: two signatories to the same contract, securing the best possible result for the British people," he said.“On Brexit, business has a responsibility to be part of the solution. We need to remain calm, confident and constructive.”

For related news and features, visit our Enterprise and Brexit sections.

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