Kemi Badenoch has snubbed an invitation to speak at the embattled Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) annual conference, in a major setback to the lobby group’s recovery.
The business secretary has informed Whitehall officials that the conference clashes with diary events ahead of next month’s Autumn Statement, according to Sky News.
It means no senior minister is set to speak at the event, with just a month left until it takes place.
The CBI has been fighting for its survival since sexual misconduct allegations against a slew of former employees in April triggered a mass exit from its members, which include John Lewis Partnership, Aviva and Natwest.
Cash flow issues had forced the body to postpone its annual general meeting in September, but the CBI was able to secure emergency funding after receiving a revolving credit facility from banks including HSBC and Natwest.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had previously said that there was “no point” in engaging further with the CBI but has since offered the group a lifeline, meeting with Newton-Smith last week in the lead-up to the Autumn Statement.
Meetings with senior officials had previously been automatic for the CBI prior to April’s crisis.
The CBI was approached for comment.