Ministers must launch a Brexit business taskforce within two months of the election, the CBI has warned

Mark Sands
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CBI boss Dreschler is giving ministers 50 days to set up a new taskforce (Source: Getty)

One of Britain's most influential business lobby groups is calling on ministers to establish a Brexit taskforce to collaborate with employers within 50 days of the General Election.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president Paul Drechsler issued the demand tonight, calling for the best minds of both sides to work together on solving some of the toughest problems around quitting the EU.

Speaking at the CBI's annual dinner in central London, Dreschler said that working with business can help ensure a Brexit deal that supports growth, jobs and prosperity, while a government going it alone risks a deal too reactive to short-term political thinking.

“At this time of unprecedented challenge, we need unparalleled co-operation between companies and the next government,” he said

“Where the top minds from government and business work together on the most complex issues, it’s a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone.”

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Drechsler added that businesses can help ministers get to grips with the complexities of supply chains ahead of trade negotiations, providing the government with a “compass” to navigate talks.

“Business needs a say because, even when the politics have been forgotten we’ll have to live with the effects for decades to come.

“So my message to the next government whoever they may be is you don’t need to ‘wing it’. Business has the evidence, the ideas and the solutions. If you work with us, Britain will get a better deal,” he said.

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It comes as the Institute for Government warns the government must change the way it operates to reap the benefits of controlling trade policy.

One of Prime Minister Theresa May's first acts in Downing Street was to establish a new Department of International Trade, but the IfG says the civil service and ministers “are not even close to being ready to negotiate”.

In a paper issued today, it raises the alarm over mandarins' need to work across departments, and collaborate with business.

IfG Brexit programme director Jill Rutter said: “Whitehall is not set up to do trade well.

“Not only does it currently lack the necessary expertise but its standard ways of working – generalist, secretive and unwilling to make difficult trade-offs – are all the enemies of doing trade policy well.”

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