Using his speech at The CBI Annual Dinner, CBI President John Allan issued a plea directly to the Chancellor and other senior politicians in the room to finally make progress on Brexit.
He said it was “unthinkable” that the UK is in much the same place as it was this time last year on Brexit – and that it has come at an ever-growing cost.
Costs to the UK economy include
- £800bn of financial capital moved out of the UK
- Four successive quarters of falling investment in 2018 – the longest such period since the financial crash.
- UK stockpiling at a rate unseen since records began
- The closure, cancellation or relocation of great businesses and their production lines.
“And all the while, our international competitors are pulling ahead,” he said.
“So, tonight I have a plea, from the heart of business, to the heart of politics. Resolve this gridlock. Do whatever it takes and do it fast.”
He added that the Prime Minister’s decision to bring back the Withdrawal Bill was an opportunity Parliament had to seize in order to resolve the mess and avoid uncertainty getting any worse.
“Be in no doubt political failure today means economic failure tomorrow. We need to find a way through.”
Allan’s second warning focused on Labour’s renationalisation plans – which risks investment at a time when the UK needs to remain open to the world.
Read more on the CBI’s position on renationalisation here.
But, his answer for both threats was the same: change how we do politics in this country and take a fresh approach in business to strengthen the partnership between the two.
“We must create a new, consensus-building politics. One that acknowledges new electoral realities and provides long-term certainty for our big national projects on infrastructure, skills and climate change,” he said.
“We need a fresh approach in business too, acknowledging the problems politicians are trying to solve and helping provide answers,” he continued.
“Just think what business and government working better together could deliver. On climate change – that’s how we’ll meet the net-zero challenge. On infrastructure – we’ll better connect London with the North, and the UK with the rest of the world. Finish HS2, Crossrail, and High Speed 3 in the North. And on digital skills – transform work itself through an education system that futureproofs our workforce.”