With just a week to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the road to Brexit remains far from clear. Last week’s votes saw the Prime Minister’s deal being rejected for a second time, the rejection of a “no-deal” Brexit and MPs backing the government's motion to seek to extend Article 50. The CBI has been clear that without a radically new approach, business fears this is simply a stay of execution.
Read the CBI’s full reaction to Article 50 extension.
This week the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, announced that the Government could only bring the Brexit deal back for a third meaningful vote if “substantial changes” are made to the current deal.
As the debate continues in the House of Commons, the CBI has been clear that MPs now have an urgent duty to put in place a process that can determine what deal Parliament does want and put an end to crippling uncertainty for business. The CBI’s recent Brexit survey underlined how the recent uncertainty has had a suppressing impact on business sales and investment plans and led to rises in costs and stockpiling. The survey of 273 firms was across the services, manufacturing, and distribution sectors and found that 88% want an extension which should be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. Crucially any extension must be backed by a clear plan.
Ahead of the European Council this week, where EU leaders will decide the length of extension permitted to the UK, TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, and CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister stating that the country is facing a national emergency. The letter urged a change to her approach on Brexit, highlighting the need to protect workers and the economy at the same time as ensuring an open Irish border. They went on to emphasise that the new approach must command a parliamentary majority and is negotiable with the EU.