CBI boss demands MPs put economy before country in Brexit vote

Photo by CBI Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI

The Guardian has reported that Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, will call on MPs to put the economy before the country in the upcoming Brexit vote.

The CBI believes that a no-deal Brexit would have disastrous consequences for the UK economy. Crashing out of the EU without a deal could see the GDP shrink by up to 8% and put thousands of jobs at risk.

The potential downsides of a no-deal Brexit has convinced the CBI boss to recommend that MPs back Prime Minister Theresa May's deal and, if that does not happen, the trade group wants the government to immediately outline a second option, referred to as Plan B.

On January 9, Parliament passed a bill outlining a maximum three days for the prime minister to deliver a Plan B Brexit solution, should her original deal with the EU not be approved.

With four days to go until the so-called 'meaningful vote' on May's Brexit deal, it is likely that sufficient Conservative MPs will vote against the deal to see it defeated. This is due in part to the lack of clarity about the Irish back stop agreement and how the border will be managed post-Brexit.

The Brexit vote will come just days after Jaguar Land Rover chief executive, Ralf Speth, said the company's liquidity would be at stake in a no-deal scenario. On January 10, the carmaker announced it was planning to make up to 5,000 workers redundant. 

Honda is also reported to be planning to temporarily stop vehicle assembly lines in early April to assess the impact of supply chain delays on production at the Honda of the UK Manufacturing plant in Swindon.

"[With a no-deal Brexit]Business would face new costs and tariffs," said Fairbairn. "Our ports would be disrupted, separating firms from the parts they need to supply their customers."

SMEs are already reporting that they are struggling to cope with business losses directly attributable to Brexit. Should the country go off a cliff edge in breaking with the EU, it could see many companies go out of business due to lost revenue.

The CBI, which represents most of the country's largest businesses, has been warning about the problems uncertainty in the relationship between the UK and EU would cause since the vote in 2016. With a no-deal Brexit looking more likely, businesses might face new tariffs and severe holdups at cross-border customs areas. Additionally, withdrawal from the EU could see UK products fall foul of related EU regulations.