25 October 2018
Impasse in Brexit talks but progress is possible
CBI publishes new research on business preparations for Brexit as negotiations stall due to failure to reach an agreement on the Northern Ireland border.
Last week, UK and EU negotiators failed to reach an agreement on the Northern Ireland border which has led to an impasse in Brexit talks - but progress is still possible. With over 95% of the withdrawal agreement complete, the CBI will continue to work with negotiators to safeguard economic prosperity and avert a dangerous cliff edge for businesses.
There is a clear need for compromise on both sides to agree the Withdrawal Agreement and secure the transition period. With each week that passes, firms are accelerating their contingency planning, diverting investment and costing jobs. All efforts should focus on securing transition to relieve pressure on firms, protecting people, wages and living standards across Europe.
To examine how negotiations are impacting business, the CBI has published new research on business preparations for Brexit which highlights that ongoing uncertainty is having a negative impact on investment decisions for eight out of ten firms. And almost one in five firms say the point of no return for triggering their plans has already passed. Contingency plans include cutting jobs, adjusting supply chains outside the UK, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services overseas. Crucially, the research underlines that many firms are now planning for a ‘no deal’ scenario, with severe implications for people’s livelihoods on both sides of the Channel.
In response to the research, CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, described the situation as urgent and highlighted that the speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground. She went on to say that unless a Withdrawal Agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans.
The CBI will be using the survey results to help break the political impasse. Sharing this new research with the UK government, EU member states, the Commission and sister federations across Europe to highlight the cost of a no deal. However, the CBI’s voice is only as strong as the evidence from the office and factory floor. A collective effort from businesses - large and small - is required now. The CBI is urging every business - regardless of their view on Brexit - to make their case known to their local MP at this very crucial stage of negotiations.