No more Brexit delays, urges CBI: Business lobby says firms want to get on with leaving the EU even if it means no trade deal

  • Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the body will not support further delays to Brexit
  • The CBI opposed Brexit and previously voiced support for a longer transition
  • She says the UK now has to ‘leave the EU economically’ having left politically 

Business will not support any further delay to the Brexit process, the head of the Confederation of British Industry warned.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the leading industry body, said business now wants to get on with leaving the EU even if it risks exiting without a trade deal at the end of this year.

The CBI opposed Brexit and has previously voiced support for a longer transition, which could theoretically be extended until the end of 2022. 

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn (pictured), director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the body will not support further delays to the Brexit process. Pictured: Speaking at the CBI annual conference at the InterContinental Hotel in London in November 2019

When the option to extend the transition was negotiated in 2018, the CBI welcomed it, saying it might make a deal ‘easier to agree’.

But Dame Carolyn told the BBC’s Newsnight that business leaders now want an end to the uncertainty.

‘We have left the EU politically,’ she said. ‘We do now need to leave the EU economically. 

‘Business does not have any interest in delaying that because that is uncertainty magnified. 

‘Most businesses – not all, but most – still recognise the importance of getting to a conclusion.’

Dame Carolyn said the devastating economic impact of coronavirus meant it was now even more important that the two sides strike a deal.

She added: ‘Both sides need to recognise we are going to be dealing with unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s. 

‘Every job will be vital and a good Brexit deal is vital to that.’

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