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CBI urges government to take “whole economy” approach to Brexit

CBI has called on the government to take a “whole economy” approach to Brexit. It also highlighted barrier-free trade and an immigration system that’s “open, flexible and easy” as priorities for Brexit to be a success.


Business organisation, CBI has published a wish list for Brexit. As well as calling on the government to take a “whole economy approach” to Brexit, top of their list was a barrier-free relationship with the EU.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI’s director-general said that a “whole economy” approach was important to avoid not “leaving sectors behind”.

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.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of CBI

The list was made in the CBI’s report: “Making a Success of Brexit”. The CBI produced the report after consulting with a wide range of businesses from the agriculture industry to the technology industry.

Six guiding principles for Brexit negotiations

The report included six guiding principles, which every sector agreed as priorities and which the CBI called on the government to take on in negotiations.

  1. A barrier-free relationship with our largest, closest and most important trading partner
  2. A clear plan for regulation that gives certainty in the short-term, and in the long-term balances influence, access and opportunity
  3. A migration system which allows businesses to access the skills and labour they need to deliver growth
  4. A renewed focus on global economic relationships, with the business community at their heart
  5. An approach that protects the social and economic benefits of EU funding
  6. A smooth exit from the EU, avoiding a cliff-edge that causes disruption

On migration

In an Employment Trends Survey, skills gaps was one of the biggest concerns of business.

The report makes three recommendations to government on migration. It firstly calls on the government to make securing a reciprocal agreement on the status of EU citizens in Britain an immediate priority. It also says that the government’s migration system should accept the need for non-graduate migration and that the system should be “open, flexible and easy”.

The UK’s new migration system should be open, flexible, and easy – particularly for high-skilled employees

CBI: Making a Success of Brexit

Theresa May has so far indicated that immigration control was her red line in negotiations. But at a Commons committee hearing, the prime minister refused to be drawn in on whether there would be migration controls on EU citizens once Britain leaves the Union.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon launched Scotland’s Brexit plan which makes the case for Scotland retaining single market access as well as free movement.

No business operates in isolation

The report also gives a summary of the views of each sector as well as their sector-specific priorities. However, it warns overall that a “whole economy approach” was needed.

This sentiment is also shared by Open Britain whose research said that “cherry-picking” in a sector-by-sector deal would harm the economy. This was because there was “considerable linkage between the sectors”.

In its report, the CBI says that the sector views that they gathered shows “how interconnected the modern UK economy” is. And in a statement on the report, it adds that “no business operates in isolation”.

The modern UK economy is ever more interconnected. Legislation in one sector can have a knock-on effect in many others.

For example, any business that handles data or has an online presence can be affected by future digital regulations, not just technology companies.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of CBI

You can read the full report at cbi.org.uk.

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