Sajid Javid questions CBI stance on European Union membership

James Nickerson
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Javid warns against unconditional support for the EU (Source: Getty)

Sajid Javid has told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) they could harm the Prime Minister’s renegotiation efforts with their unquestioning support for European Union membership.

“I’ve heard the CBI thinks the UK should remain in the European Union no matter what,” the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills (BIS) said at a CBI dinner last night.

That the people of Britain should vote to stay in regardless of whether or not the Prime Minister wins the concessions that British business so badly needs…

Of course you’re entirely free to come to that conclusion. But does it really make sense to say, so early in the process, that "the rules of this club need to change, but don’t worry – we’ll always be members no matter what"?

The Conservative minister likened the CBI to a poker player who has played their hand too early, which could result in renegotiation efforts being hampered.

The remarks mark a shift away from the views of former business secretary Vince Cable.

Javid's comments came just hours after the CBI announced that Caroyln Fairbairn, former head of strategy at the BBC and ITV, will take over as director general in November. Part of her role will be to help frame the CBI’s view on European Union membership.

Read more: Carolyn Fairbairn appointed first female director general of the CBI

"The debate around Britain’s relationship with the EU and the productivity challenge facing our economy will be two of the defining issues of the next few years, and I greatly look forward to representing the voice of British businesses of all sizes on these questions and many others," Fairbairn said.

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