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CBI urges MPs to avert no deal Brexit - and slams immigration system plans

Carolyn Fairbairn

The Confederation of British Industry has again urged MPs not to countenance a no deal Brexit.

CBI director general Carolyn Farirbairn told business leaders in Bristol that whilst business could live with Prime Minister May's deal if it had to, a no deal scenario would do serious damage to both manufacturing and services, not least in the South West.

She said, "The responsibility to ensure an orderly exit is now in parliament's hands. Each MP is democratically chosen to safeguard the security and prosperity of our country.

"And next week, they face a test. If they meet it with yet more brinkmanship, the whole country could face a no-deal, disorderly Brexit.

"The economic consequences would be profound, widespread and lasting. GDP would decline by up to 8%, meaning less money for our public services and those who rely on them."

She added that existing trade deals with the likes of Japan and South Korea would be lost.

If next week's vote on the WA is lost by Mrs May and, "If parliament can't agree then it is for the government immediately to set out what it will do to avert a no-deal exit, and to guarantee this", she argued.

Immigration proposals fall far short

Fairbairn went on to criticise the government's post-Brexit immigration system proposals.

She said, "The proposals published before Christmas fall far short of what our economy needs.

"Overseas workers on low-incomes would be able to come here only for a single year.

"Companies would pay immigration charges at the unaffordable rate of over £1,000 per worker, per year.

"While consultation is welcome, these plans take us to within a year of when free movement is set to end.

"It's simply not enough time. And it is now time to say so.

"One consequence of the historic lack of informed debate about immigration in this country is a lack of understanding about the scale of overseas workers' contribution.

"So it's up to us — the business owners, leaders and managers — to explain how overseas workers bring skill, innovation, and enterprise.

"Any hasty attempt to cut their numbers would not only harm business, but harm our country."

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