British industry unites in last ditch plea to avoid no deal Brexit

Calls for political leadership as firms said to face a “hat-trick of unprecedented challenges”

British industry has come together to make a final desperate plea for the government and the EU to show political leadership as trade talks hang by a thread this weekend, with time, patience and trust fast running out. Both sides continue to insist on sticking to entrenched positions on the key points of fish, governance and the level playing field.

Over 70 trade associations and professional bodies representing 190,000 British businesses and seven million employees are calling for politicians on both sides to carve a path towards a deal.

The trade and professional bodies which have combined under the banner of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), represent business sectors from automotive to aviation, chemicals to creative industries, and farming and food to pharmaceuticals – all united in urging the government to secure a quick agreement. They say it “matters greatly for jobs and livelihoods”.  

None appeared to believe that Britain would “prosper mightily” as the prime minster claimed on Friday when he said we should “get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade.” Australia does not trade with the EU solely on WTO terms, it has negotiated 20 bilateral treaties, but if talks breakdown, Britain would have not have even these simple trade facilitating agreements with Brussels. In any case Australia and the EU are already in talks to secure a full FTA.

The joint statement of the industry bodies, issued last night says:

“Now is the time for historic political leadership. With compromise and tenacity, a deal can be done. Businesses call on leaders on both sides to find a route through.

“Businesses are doing what they can to prepare for Brexit. But firms face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of Covid-19, dealing with the second and uncertainty over the UK’s trading relationship with the EU. 

“That’s why more than three quarters of UK firms say they need a deal, quickly. With each day that passes, business resilience is chipped away. A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe”. 

Terry Jones, director general of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, representing the nations’ farming sector – covering over 70 percent of the UK landmass and underpinning a UK food and farming industry worth more than £120bn to the economy and employing more than four million people – said:

“The EU, as a single trading bloc, is the most important international market for UK agri-food products, and given its size and proximity will continue to be so in the future.

“That is why it’s critically important that a tariff-free, quota-free deal is struck as soon as possible. Securing a tariff-free deal will help the nation’s farmers maintain vital trade links and ensure that they can continue supplying British consumers with high-quality, affordable food produced to trusted high standards, with European consumers continuing to benefit too.”

Terry Jones, director general of the NFU

In 2018, 62 percent of UK agri-food product exports were to the EU and 70 percent UK agri-food imports were from the EU.

Steve Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association, which represents businesses responsible for half a million jobs, said:

“I am concerned that the cumulative, negative impact of these priorities under a WTO outcome will make life much tougher for chemical businesses across the UK, the majority of which are foreign-headquartered. In regions and areas such as the North East, the Humber Bank and North West of England plus Central Scotland and South Wales, the chemical sector is critical to the local economies in terms of highly skilled, productive and well-rewarded jobs. We are the UK’s biggest manufacturing exporter. As a key foundation industry serving 95 percent of manufacturing activity, there will be a significant hit on other industries if there is no deal. We need that deal.”

Steve Elliot, CEO Chemical Industries Association

Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), representing 7,500 food and drink manufacturers who employ over 430,000 people as a key part of the UK’s wider food chain which employs 4.3 million people, said, “It is vital we secure a deal which enables the UK’s food and drink manufacturers to feed the nation and maintain UK food security. No deal would cause deep damage to the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and put at risk the choice, quality and affordability of food and drink available to UK shoppers and consumers”.


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Full list of signatories:

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association (AA)

Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

Helen Brand OBE, CEO of  the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of ADS Group

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK

Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airports Operators Association (AOA)

Paul Hide, CEO of AMEDA

Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID)

Ann Swain, CEO of The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)

Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

David Camp, CEO of Association of Labour Providers (ALP)

Paul Hide, CEO of The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances

John White, CEO of Bacta

Tony Smith, Chairman of British Measurement and Testing Association (BMTA)

Wayne Grills, CEO of British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)

Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)

Tom Bowtell, CEO Of British Coatings Federation (BCF)

Ellen Daniels, CEO of British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA)

Emma English, Executive Director of British Educational Travel Association (BETA)

Christopher Buxton, CEO of The British Fluid Power Association (BFPA)

Lucy Reece-Raybould, CEO of British Footwear Association (BFA)

Robert Keen, Director General of British International Freight Association (BIFA)

Lesley Brian, CEO of British Marine

John Newcomb, CEO of British Merchants Federation (BMF)

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association (BPA)

Melanie Leech CBE, CEO of British Property Federation (BPF)

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium (BRC)

Mike Reddington, Chief Executive of British Security Industry Association (BSIA)

Rob Cooper, Managing Director of British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA)

Gerry Keaney, CEO of British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA)

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK

David Frise, CEO of Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)

Julia Evans OBE, CEO of Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA)

Ann Francke OBE, CEO of The Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA)

Peter Newport, CEO of Chemical Business Association (CBA)

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Geraldine Bolton, CEO of Confederation of British Metalforming (CBM)

Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor)

Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative Industries Federation

Chris Combemale, CEO of Data & Marketing Association (DMA)

Deb Oxley OBE, CEO of Employee Ownership Association (EOA)

Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of Energy UK

Jack Semple, Alliance Secretary of Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA)

Kim Bailey, CEO of Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA)

Ian Wright CBE, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF)

Gordon Polson, CEO of Federation of Bakers (Fob)

Russell Beattie, CEO of Federation of Environmental Trade Associations

Stephen Hadrill, CEO of Finance and Leasing Association (FLA)

Vicky Nuttall, Director of GIMA

Michael Izza, Chief Executive of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

David Hare, CEO of Independent Healthcare Providers Network

David Greene, President of the Law Society of England and Wales

David Wells, CEO of Logistics UK

James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA)

Alex Waugh, Director General of The National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim)

Terry Jones, Director General of the NFU of England & Wales

Deidre Michie OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas UK (OGUK)

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of The Road Haulage Association (RHA)

Karen Betts, CEO of Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA)

Mike Hawes, CEO of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT)

Julian David, CEO of techUK

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK

David Dalton-Brown, CEO of The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA)

Kurt Jansen, Director of Tourism Alliance

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of UK Chamber of Shipping

Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion and Textile Association

Kate Nichols, CEO of UK Hospitality

Helen Brocklebank, Chief Executive of Walpole

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