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Tory leadership: CBI business chiefs blast candidates for backing No Deal Brexit


Britain’s top business body today savaged Tory leadership candidates for backing a No Deal Brexit .

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) lashed out at right-wing Tories who have begun an ‘arms race’ to leave without an agreement on October 31.

A string of the 12 candidates to be next Prime Minister, including Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom, say they will leave in October – whether there is a deal or not.

Only a handful, including Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart and Mark Harper, look set to avoid No Deal.

The intervention is a major blow to the Tories’ claim to be the party of business.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn warned No Deal would cause “severe” damage to Brit firms.


CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn said: “£800billion of financial capital has left this country. This idea we are ready is just not true”


She warned of the “depth and breadth of opposition to no deal” in the business community, adding: “£800billion of financial capital has left this country.

“This idea we are ready is just not true.”

She urged the next prime minister to reach an agreement with Brussels, warning that the “vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no deal”.

She said the next prime minister needed to listen to “clear, detailed evidence” from businesses when deciding on their Brexit approach.

Esther McVey has said the UK needs to “actively embrace leaving the EU without a deal”, while Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have both said they would work to renegotiate the terms on offer with Brussels but would make sure the UK leaves on October 31, with or without an agreement.


Esther McVey has said the UK needs to “actively embrace leaving the EU without a deal”


In an open letter to the participants in the race for Number 10, Ms Fairbairn said: “The next prime minister can only claim the Conservatives are the party of business if they secure a Brexit deal that protects the economy, jobs and living standards.

“Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward.

“Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one.

“The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME (small and medium enterprise) members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.

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“We need compromise, consensus and honesty to resolve the Brexit impasse, quickly.

“Prolonged uncertainty is damaging our economy now – driving up costs and reducing sales.

“Stockpiling of raw materials and goods among SMEs is at a record high.

“Billions of pounds in investment are being diverted from the economy, harming future jobs and prosperity.

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“The CBI urges the next Prime Minister to build their approach to Brexit from the bottom up – from the clear, detailed evidence of firms, on the ground, managing the day-to-day implications for jobs.

“Only then will the UK have the foundations for a world beating economy.”

Ms Fairbairn said Brexit was not the only concern for British business.

“Threats of renationalisation, continued doubts over vital projects like Heathrow, HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and unreformed business rates are just a few of the other challenges that make investors think twice,” she said.

“It’s time to restore the UK’s reputation as the stable and trusted country to start and grow a business.


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