Britain’s Brexit deal must meet the needs of all sectors of the economy if the UK is to be successful outside the European Union, the CBI has warned.
The business lobby group urged the government to take a “whole economy” approach to negotiations with the EU, so that no sector is left behind.
The CBI said that after thousands of conversations with firms across 18 sectors throughout the country, businesses had identified different priorities but the complexity of the modern economy meant there were overlaps too.
Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general – who backed remain, conceded the task of leaving the EU would be challenging but said the government would have to work through all the issues regardless.
“Businesses in every corner of the UK are rolling up their sleeves as they prepare for life outside the EU and are committed to making it a success.
“Leaving the EU will be a highly complex process, and all sectors of the economy are making their priorities clear in order to get it right. The government will need to take a ‘whole economy’ approach to avoid leaving sectors behind.”
The CBI has previously warned that UK firms are fearful of a “cliff edge” situation, where trading conditions would suddenly change when Britain’s two-year Brexit negotiating period comes to an end.
In its largest survey of members since before the 23 June vote, the group said companies placed different emphasis on the issues of trade, migration and regulation.
Ability to hire workers from abroad was a concern for restaurants, firms in the chemicals and plastics sector, and for logistics companies who already face a shortfall of nearly 35,000 HGV drivers, the CBI said.
Airlines and the wider aviation industry – which employs almost 1 million people – want a deal that will ensure the smooth travel of holidaymakers, workers and goods.
Construction companies asked about the potential costs of importing materials and shared concerns with the manufacturing sector about the CE marking regime, a standard required for many products traded on the single market.
“While each sector has issues specific to them, there are many crossovers and common principles that unite them, for example the need to avoid cliff edge changes that cause disruption to supply chains and trade,” Fairbairn said.
“From aviation and chemicals to life sciences and agriculture, firms of all sizes will want to understand how easy it will be for them to trade in the future with the EU which remains the biggest market for British businesses. They need to know what rules they will be working by and how they can still secure access to skilled workers and labour, where shortages already exist.”
The group has identified six business priorities for the post Brexit economy, including a barrier-free relationship with the EU, a clear path for regulation, and a migration system that allows businesses to access skills and labour from abroad.
Fairbairn added: “The CBI will work closely with the government to deliver an outcome that helps to meet the needs of firms throughout the UK, building a post-Brexit economy that spreads prosperity to all.”
This article was written by Angela Monaghan, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 21st December 2016 00.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010