Business chief in Brexit ‘Plan B’ call
THE head of one of Britain’s biggest business organisations used a visit to the West to urge the Government to reveal its ‘Plan B’ if it loses the ‘meaningful’ Brexit vote on Tuesday.
CBI director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, was in the region yesterday and addressed top business figures at an event at the Bristol Old Vic theatre. She said it was critical that the region continued to have access to skills and labour.
In her speech, she said the Government had to immediately set out its plan to avert a ‘no-deal Brexit’ if it lost next week’s meaningful vote.
She said: “Whether you want to build an aeroplane, construct a nuclear power station, animate a film or launch a yacht or satellite, businesses here in the South West know how to succeed.
“And it’s not just the diversity of South Western firms, it’s also about sheer weight of their knowledge. There’s so much to celebrate here.
“But as much as I’d like to make this speech a Shakespearean soliloquy about the South West, I can’t ignore that, at a national level, things aren’t so rosy.”
She said a no-deal scenario could cause huge damage to the region’s prosperity.
Her remarks came in the wake of a number of blows to the UK’s manu- facturing sector this week, with car manufacturing particularly at risk.
On Thursday, Jaguar Land Rover revealed thousands of jobs were at risk and Honda announced a temporary six-day closure of its plant at Swindon in early April to mitigate against the risk of Brexit chaos.
Yesterday, further gloom hit the sector, with reports of potential job losses at Ford’s engine factory at Bridgend in South Wales emerging.
Ms Fairbairn added: “The responsibility to ensure an orderly exit is now in Parliament’s hands. Each MP is democratically chosen to safeguard the security and prosperity of our country.
“And next week, they face a test. If they meet it with yet more brinkmanship, the whole country could face a no-deal, disorderly Brexit.
“The economic consequences would be profound, widespread and lasting. GDP would decline by up to eight per cent, meaning less money for our public services and those who rely on them. Make no mistake, no-deal cannot be ‘managed’.”
She said it was vital the UK had access to overseas labour post-Brexit. She added: “We rely on workers from abroad for so much – to harvest our food, build our homes, care for us in our old age; to help us win new contracts, bring new skills, ideas and insight.
“As we leave the EU, our country has an opportunity – and a responsibility – to shape our own, independent immigration policy.
“It must win public support and in turn support our economy.”
The responsibility to ensure an orderly
exit is now in Parliament’s hands
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn