Businesses are "100 per cent committed" to making the best of Brexit but need clarity from government, says CBI

Rebecca Smith
The CBI wants government to build on the certainty it has provided the economy
The CBI wants government to build on the certainty it has provided the economy (Source: Getty)

Businesses want to make the best of Brexit, but will need more clarity from government, according to the CBI.

Speaking tomorrow at the CBI's annual conference, president Paul Drechsler is expected to say that firms are "100 per cent committed" to making the best of Brexit", but to do that, "government and business must do more than just work together".

The CBI's president will call on the government to build on the certainty it has provided to the economy through announcements on Heathrow and Hinkley Point, by implementing transition arrangements once Britain leaves the EU in 2019.

Read more: Brexit: 60 Tory MPs call on May to pull UK out of the Single Market

"We must be two partners with a common cause," Drechsler will say. "Two signatories to the same contract, securing the best possible result for the British people. On Brexit, business has a responsibility to be part of the solution."

The CBI wants reassurances that Britain won't close its borders to Europe's talent or "lose our privileged access to Europe's markets".

He will also warn of what happens the immediate day after Brexit, with firms considering "the cliff edge scenario - a sudden and overnight transformation in trading conditions".

Prime Minister Theresa May has been clear on her desire to keep her cards close to her chest on what the government will seek to achieve from Brexit negotiations.

While High Court ruled the Brexit process cannot be started until Parliament has given its backing, the government is appealing the decision and May says everything will still be on track to trigger Article 50 by March 2017.

Drechsler will say that "no one understands the need for discretion better than business" when it comes to negotiations. "We're not asking for a running commentary - but we are looking for clarity and - above all - a plan."

A leaked memo claiming the government had no plan on Brexit came to light last week. It said "there will be no clear economic Brexit strategy anytime soon, because it is being developed on a case-by-case basis as specific decisions are forced on government".

Read more: A "hard Brexit" could undermine the very things driving GDP growth

It comes as the Observer reported today that European leaders have come to a 27-nation consensus that a "hard Brexit" is likely to be the only way to see off future popular insurgencies. It wants to crack down on the likelihood of similar happenings in the future, which could lead to the break up of the European Union.

Other countries with significant Eurosceptic movements will be encouraged should Britain wrangle favourable terms.

An EU diplomat told the Observer: "If you British are not prepared to compromise on free movement, the only way to deal with Brexit is hard Brexit. Otherwise we would be seen to be giving in to a country that is leaving. That would be fatal."

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