UK Party leaders expression their claim on Brexit at CBI

2,000 business leaders crowded the room at the CBI Annual Conference to hear Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn talking about Brexit – and their vision for the UK economy yesterday

Posted by Jian Ping Sun on Tuesday, 20th November 2018

Recognising the level of concern in the room, the Prime Minister “got right to it” and explained why she thought the Withdrawal Agreement was a good one.

“I have always had a very clear sense of the outcomes I wanted to deliver for people in these negotiations,” she said. “Control over our borders, by bringing an end to free movement, once and for all. Control of our money, so we can decide for ourselves how to spend it, and can do so on priorities like the NHS. Control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom and ensuring that our laws are made and enforced here in this country. Getting us out of those EU programmes that do not work in our interests, like the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. And that is exactly what we are going to deliver.” The PM said

She also took the time to focus on post-Brexit immigration as a big worry for business, arguing she wanted a system that works for business, but that it “must also command confidence of the public”.

“Now we have agreed the Withdrawal Agreement it is important that we focus on the new relationship we want to build with the EU,” May continued. “And that new relationship must set us on the path to a more prosperous future. To do that, it needs to work for jobs right across our economy. Because we are not talking about political theory, but the reality of people’s lives and livelihoods.
“Jobs depend on us getting this right.”

On goods, she emphasised the importance of maintaining frictionless trade with the EU – because “while the world is changing fast, our geography is not”.
On services, she stressed the need for a more ambitious trading relationship than any existing free trade agreement, because “the UK is not just a European hub, but a global hub for service – and our future success depends on us continuing to be so”.

Theresa May also talked about making the most of opportunities over which business has more control. Highlighting low unemployment figures and the difference having a job can make, she said: “It is why starting a business, growing a business, and keeping it thriving and successful are some of the most socially responsible things you can do in life.”

“We all believe in business as a force for good – and I want everyone here to work with me to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.” May added.

In the same occasion, the leader of the opposition on the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Labour alternative and why businesses need to play by new rules. Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage to criticise the government’s mishandling of the Brexit negotiations, which he said “locks in uncertainty for another two, three, four – who knows how many more years?”.

He confirmed that Labour would vote against the government’s deal and demand a General Election if it cannot get it through Parliament. “If we cannot secure a General Election, then we have been clear that all options must remain on the table, including a public vote,” he said.“The Prime Minister is trying to take us into a blindfold Brexit, a deal designed to get her through to the next stage of the process without anyone being able to see where we’re heading as a country.”

Corbyn said he understood why business is so concerned about the prospect of a no-deal, but that the threat “simply isn’t realistic”.

He went on to set out Labour’s alternative plan for a “jobs-first agreement that could help bring our country together. The shape of our economy after Brexit will not only be determined by the text negotiated in Brussels. It will be driven by political decisions about the direction we wish to take as a country,” Borbyn pointed.

“It could not be clearer, business as usual isn’t working. And when the rules of the game aren’t working for the overwhelming majority, the rules of the game need to change.”

“Labour recognises the vast and vital contribution businesses make to our economy and our society. And at the heart of that contribution are your employees. They have an interest in the long-term success of your company – their company. They have in-depth knowledge of its day to day workings. They have so much to contribute and giving them a real voice will strengthen, not weaken, the business.”

“Business in Britain today faces a great future if it embraces the change we need for our economy and our society.” He emphasized

Responding to a speech by the Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Firms have made an offer to Labour – to work with business in a new partnership to solve the issues facing the UK and build a truly competitive and fair country.

“From rigid employment rules to blunt public ownership, the Labour approach sounds more command and control, than partnership. This is not the change that is needed.

“Firms wants a new relationship based on frictionless trade, services access and a say for the UK over future rules. This is the real prize – and firms are desperate to move forwards.

“The deal currently on the table opens up this potential, and the last thing businesses want is to go backwards. The Government’s deal is not perfect, but with four months to go and the potential of no deal looming progress must be made.”

Editor: James Norris

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