6 July 2016

  |  CBI Press Team


After Brexit, put national interest ahead of political interests on infrastructure – CBI President

Failure to build a new runway in the South East will see Germany gain £15 billion, and France £7.5 billion by 2030.

After Brexit, put national interest ahead of political interests on infrastructure – CBI President

The President of the UK’s largest business group will (tomorrow – Thursday) call on the Government to deliver strong, calm and decisive leadership on infrastructure decisions, especially in light of Brexit.

Speaking at The Infrastructure Forum’s Policy Summit, Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI President, will say:

“If we believed infrastructure decisions were important two weeks ago, now after Brexit, they are even more important.

“In these times of economic uncertainty, we know that economic stimulus will be vital. And infrastructure is a powerful way to achieve this.

“We need a government that gets on with making the big decisions at home. That means keeping existing infrastructure decisions on track. From housing, to devolution plans through Local Enterprise Partnerships.

“The show must go on – with no missed deadlines.”

On increasing the UK’s aviation capacity, he will say:

“Building a new runway in the South East is a key decision for the long-term future of our economy and country.

“Let’s be clear - in the aftermath of Brexit, the world won’t wait for us. Other countries don’t care about our excuses. The competition is hungry and more than willing to take advantage of our weakness.

“While we’re staring at the departures board, airports in France, Germany and the Netherlands are all building routes with emerging markets.

“If the UK doesn’t act now, we could lose out on over £30 billion in trade by 2030 with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies alone.

“Meanwhile, our loss would be our European rivals’ gain. Of the £30 billion of trade with BRICs we’d miss out on by 2030, £15 billion would go to Germany, and £7.5 billion would go to France.

“It’s more important than ever to reassure Britain’s workers, makers, exporters and investors that the UK is open for business.

“My message for the next Prime Minister is this. A decision on a new runway must be your top domestic priority. Bar none.

“The Commission recommended Heathrow - make this your starting point. We cannot go back to the drawing board – again. We cannot afford to be put on hold – again. Take action, make a plan, and let’s get on with it.”

On the UK’s infrastructure track record, he will say:

“When Government acts on the evidence, we can make things happen. Recently, we’ve seen government putting their money where their mouth is on road and rail investment.

“We’re seeing the biggest investment programme in rail since Victorian times, and the biggest road-building programme since the 1970s - a welcome move away from the ‘stop-start’ funding of the past.

“We’re also growing in confidence when it comes to bigger infrastructure projects. At almost £15 billion, Crossrail – Europe’s largest infrastructure project – is amazingly on time and on budget, at 70% complete.

“The progress made by HS2 in the last year also shows that – once we make that crucial decision to commit – we can move quickly. But, as a country, now more than ever, we can’t afford to go backwards.”

On the National Infrastructure Commission, he will say:

“The creation of a National Infrastructure Commission last October was a breath of fresh air. It’s a great chance to discuss the big infrastructure challenges we will face in the next 20 to 30 years.

“But, we often fall at the final hurdle. At turning expert opinion into concrete action. Business certainly won’t judge the Commission by the number of recommendations it makes, but by the amount of action the Government takes.

“The Commission should be able to hold the Government to account, ‘scoring’ the Government on how they have stepped up and acted based on their evidence.”

On housing, he will say:

“One of the underlying concerns behind the vote to leave was a shortage of vital infrastructure – like housing.

“The Government’s policy of ‘own or go it alone’ ignores a range of other tenures which are part of the solution. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket – we need to see a housing policy which supports everyone, buyers or renters.”

On energy, he will say:

“The Government is right to put energy costs, for industry and consumers, at the top of its agenda. Yet by phasing out support for on-shore wind farms, they’re getting rid of one of the cheapest forms of renewables.

“When it comes to energy policy – we need long-term decisions which create the stability we need.”