No-deal Brexit a ‘hammer blow for econ­omy’ – CBI

Western Mail - - NEWS -

A NO-DEAL exit from the Euro­pean Union would de­liver a “hammer blow” to the Bri­tish econ­omy, the head of the CBI has warned.

The busi­ness body’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Carolyn Fair­bairn, said the coun­try should get be­hind Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s Che­quers pro­pos­als as a blueprint for a Brexit deal.

She warned against “throw­ing ev­ery­thing up in the air” by tear­ing up Che­quers and seek­ing an al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion at this late stage in ne­go­ti­a­tions, with fewer than 200 days to go to the sched­uled date of Brexit in March 2019.

Speak­ing on BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme, Ms Fair­bairn said: “I’m afraid that this is hap­pen­ing in the here and now, so the ur­gency of step­ping back from the cliff-edge is grow­ing daily.

“The hammer blow to our econ­omy would be enor­mous and I think many smaller busi­nesses can’t prop­erly pre­pare and that just dou­bles the po­ten­tial im­pact if we go over that cliff.

“We have to have a deal.”

In an ap­par­ent re­buff to Brexit Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab’s claim that firms such as John Lewis have been us­ing EU with­drawal as an ex­cuse for poor per­for­mance, Ms Fair­bairn told To­day: “They have not.

“They have ac­tu­ally been get­ting on with things and what we need now more than any­thing else is con­fi­dence from our politi­cians in busi­ness. The world is watch­ing, and we need that con­fi­dence to come from politi­cians on all sides.”

Ms Fair­bairn said Thurs­day’s doc­u­ments setting out gov­ern­ment prepa­ra­tions for a no-deal Brexit made “tough read­ing” for busi­nesses, who were faced with the prospect of ad­di­tional bu­reau­cracy and bar­ri­ers to trade.

“What they show more than any­thing else is the sledge­ham­mer that would hit our econ­omy if we went over that cliff,” she said.

She called for more help for smaller busi­nesses, who were “re­ally strug­gling” to get ready for Brexit. But she said: “The real fo­cus has to be un­lock­ing the with­drawal agree­ment. That is the only route for­ward.”

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