6 December 2017

Press release

It would be an act of gross irresponsibility to walk away

CBI President Paul Drechsler warns of a 'no deal' scenario and it's potential impact on British business at a City of London dinner. 

It would be an act of gross irresponsibility to walk away

Paul Drechsler, CBI President:

“I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a cloud hanging over all of us in the City. And yes, that cloud is called Brexit. And it is a cloud that seems to threaten to rain at any time.

“Especially now, during this period of lengthy negotiations. John Quinton, ex-chairman of Barclays Bank, once said ‘Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, build more tunnel’. Now I work with a lot of fantastic politicians, but one does get the sense – when it comes to the Brexit negotiations – that never a truer word was spoken.

“Today, Brexit uncertainty looms over almost every aspect of doing business in the UK. Every day, companies are having to plan for worst while hoping for the best.

“They are making choices that will determine new jobs, new plants and new investments in the years ahead. Businesses will press snooze for as long as they can – but the alarm will go off.

“No company wants to move jobs or shift production – but business will if it has to. No-one wants to leave their homes or jobs – but EU citizens will if they feel they are no longer wanted.

“And we know that financial services firms start making their ‘no turning back’ decisions in the first quarter of 2018. There’s no time to waste. In the immediate term, business needs to know the details of any transition deal – Rome is burning on that issue.

“And we need progress at the EU council next week or 60 percent of firms with contingency plans will have put these into effect by Easter. That means jobs leaving the UK – in most cases irreversibly.

“These two things can be the dam that stems the flow of lost opportunities. We can then finally start talks on a deal that will start from 40 years of economic integration.

“For your customers and the economy at large, we need progress on getting:

  • The widest possible rights of market access
  • Minimal barriers to trade
  • The standardisation of rules and regulations that business thrives on.
  • And progress on transitional arrangements.

“And to those politicians suggesting we walk away from the negotiating table, I have a simple message: Careless talk will cost jobs. It’s intolerable at a time when we all need to be working in the national interest. We can’t walk away when the going gets tough. “We can’t enter into negotiations that affect the future of millions of people and then leave at the first sign of trouble.

“It would be an act of gross irresponsibility to walk away.

“To protect jobs, businesses and the prosperity of the country, we need to do what it takes to make progress and get on with the deal.”