Thursday, August 02, 2018

CBI Chief and Jeremy Hunt warn Brussels on need to compromise

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, has warned the EU that both sides, not just Britain, need to compromise to avoid damage of the two sides fail to agree a sensible basis for trade after Brexit.

Speaking to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, she warned EU negotiators they should consider "the impact a Brexit no deal would have on European economies".

Ms Fairbairn suggested that the scenario where the UK leaves the Brussels bloc without an agreement could affect 1.2million jobs in Europe. She added that it was time the EU opened its eyes and realised the harm disruption to trade could do would affect both sides of the Channel. She said:

"People always talk about the port of Dover collapsing, but the same thing would happen at Calais in France where almost the entire traffic is towards the UK.

"Same goes for Dutch and German ports."

She also said that some of the more alarmist claims about shortages of food and medicine in the event of a no deal scenario were "exaggerations". But she argued it was only fair that the Government would warn UK businesses to prepare for all scenarios, highlighting many small-to-medium businesses in the country are completely unprepared.

Whilst she accused the UK's hard Brexiteers of "cherry-picking" in the Brexit negotiations, Ms Fairbairn called on the Brussels negotiators to finally give in and "make some concessions".

The UK's new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that a messy divorce with the EU would be "geostrategic mistake". However, he vowed the UK will continue to prosper whatever the outcome of the Brexit talks.

Mr Hunt said:

“Britain will prosper and succeed whatever the outcome of these talks because we're that kind of country.

"But we would much rather a future when we look at all the instability in the world, all the pressures, all the unpredictability where people who share values are standing together shoulder to shoulder."

He also wrote: “We want the EU to prosper but there is a real risk of a messy divorce which would be a geostrategic mistake. 

"Let’s have a pragmatic solution to allow the deep and special friendship between UK and EU to continue.” 

At a news conference in Vienna, he said:

“This is not Project Fear, this is project reality. 

“We have to make a decision on Britain's future relationship with the EU by the end of this year and we have to be very honest with ourselves about the choices that we face. 

“We need to have these frank discussions because time is very, very short and we are clear that what we want is a friendship.”

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