UK in 'suspended animation' over Brexit, says CBI chief

Outgoing CBI Director General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has called on the government to conclude trade talks with the EU so that the country can move on from the “suspended animation” of the past four years.

Fairbairn also warned ministers that businesses grappling with Covid-19 were unprepared for a hard Brexit.

What did the CBI Director General say?

Caroline Fairburn, the first ever female Director General of the CBI which represents business and industry, started in the job just as the EU referendum was announced in 2016. Now, as she is leaving the job she has spoken to the Guardian about what the Brexit vote has meant for the CBI and British industry.

She said: “It [departure from the EU] has had a momentum of its own. It has been almost a perfect storm. The economy has gone into suspended animation while we resolve this seismic issue. I hope we can have a resolution so we can move on.”

On the prospect of a deal being agreed, Fairburn is optimistic: “The thing that’s painful is that it has taken so long to get to a resolution. I think we will get a deal. The remaining issues look soluble.”

The Guardian further reported that "With much of the country facing new Covid-19 restrictions, the CBI said many companies were going backwards in their Brexit preparations. She urged the government to set up a task force to speed up preparations as soon as an agreement had been reached."

Commenting, Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said:

"These comments perfectly capture the mood of Britain.

"Everyone is distracted by coronavirus and yet talks are still ongoing to prevent a damaging no-deal Brexit.

"Such a disastrous outcome should have been ruled out long ago to give businesses some peace of mind amid all the difficulties they face. It beggars belief that the government is still keeping this nuclear option on the table despite the economic crisis that is engulfing our country.

"The best thing the government can do now is wrap up a trade deal as soon as possible."

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