Brexit: Firms speeding up no-deal plans, says CBI

Carolyn Fairbairn Image copyright Reuters

UK companies are likely to speed up plans for a no-deal Brexit in response to Tuesday’s votes in Parliament, the head of the CBI has told the BBC.

Carolyn Fairbairn said a plan to renegotiate the UK’s withdrawal deal “feels like a real throw of the dice”.

“I don’t think there will be a single business this morning who is stopping or halting their no-deal planning,” she said in response to the idea.

“I fear they may even be accelerating it,” she added.

Theresa May is expected to seek further talks with EU leaders in the coming days after MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of replacing the backstop – the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of no deal.

The backstop is the main objection that Brexiteers in the Conservative party have to the deal negotiated by Mrs May, which was heavily rejected by MPs earlier this month in the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

The EU has already said it will not change the legal text of the deal.

Ms Fairbairn said the reaction of businesses to the outcome of Tuesday’s voting would be one of “rising frustration and concern”.

She said Parliament had shown that there was “a consensus against no-deal”, but added: “It does nothing to take no-deal off the table and it does feel like hope rather than strategy.”

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