Brexit: CBI manifesto hits out at Government’s ‘no deal’ threats

The CBI has slammed the Government’s threats to walk away from Brexit negotiations stating whoever wins the General Election must rule out falling back on World Trade Organisation rules.

In its latest business manifesto, Backing Britain’s Prosperity, it has also argued the new Government must “immediately guarantee” the rights of EU citizens to continue working in the UK and must confirm a business-friendly migration system by the end of the year.

However, it warns this must be balanced with voters’ concerns over immigration.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is widely expected to take the Conservatives to victory at the June General Election, has previously said that no deal would be better than a bad deal in Brexit negotiations.

This would mean the UK would fall back on WTO rules, creating trading barriers with the European Union.

Speaking on the release of the manifesto, director general Carolyn Fairburn warned the “the world is watching”.

“The UK’s hard-won reputation as a predictable, pro-enterprise economy must be protected.”

Fairburn adds: “It is vital for both sides in negotiations to prioritise jobs and our £600 billion trade with the EU in the Brexit talks.”

On Brexit, the manifesto also recommends taskforces on some of the most complex issues, including customs, data, regulation, people, and EU funding.

Beyond the UK’s exit from the European Union, the manifesto also urges the Government to create a policy of “no surprises”, including through the Great Repeal Bill, a review on business rates, and maintaining progress on projects like Crossrail 2, the Northern Powerhouse and the third runway at Heathrow.

It also recommends a R&D spending target of 3 per cent GDP by 2025

Fairbairn says the Government must put jobs and trade first in Brexit negotiations.

“This will be a hugely complex process and they should bring the best minds from Government and business together to get the best outcome.

“Access to skills and labour is critical for business, so firms want to see details of what a new migration system might look like by the end of the year.”

She adds that inclusion and diversity must be a hallmark of UK business if it wants to maintain its ranks among the best for corporate governance around the world.