21 June 2018


With the Withdrawal Bill in the Commons this week, the CBI stands up for business

CBI President, Paul Drechsler, speaks out in a number of interviews to discuss EU negotiations and the impact Brexit is having on firms.

With the Withdrawal Bill in the Commons this week, the CBI stands up for business

Whilst Brexit continues to dominate the airwaves, outgoing CBI President, Paul Drechsler, issued a reminder for policymakers to focus on business priorities and put evidence above political ideology. Paul featured in the Financial Times, on Ian King Live, on Channel 4 News and on the Today Programme in recent days to discuss EU negotiations and highlight the lack of clarity is effecting businesses.

Against business calls for clarity, urgency and progress, the domestic Brexit process continued last week with MPs debating the Withdrawal Bill in the Commons. MPs voted on 15 amendments put forwards by the House of Lords. Despite threats of a rebellion from the backbenches, walkouts and amendments from opposition parties, the government won every vote. 

For businesses, key votes included, making remaining in the EEA a negotiating objective and making government report on progress negotiating customs union. On the issue of the customs union, the commons accepted the government's amendment which required the government to lay a statement before parliament outlining the steps taken to negotiate an agreement for the UK to participate in a customs arrangement with the EU. However, this is unlikely to be the end of the debate with other votes on the issue of a customs union in the Trade and Customs Bills, expected to be debated before the summer recess. The final key vote for businesses was giving parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal. This was defeated after Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, published a ministerial statement promising parliamentary time for MPs to table motions and debate matters of concern in the event that talks break down. This was the focus of most political interest, but the effect a meaningful vote has on the chances of no deal matters for business. The Withdrawal Bill will continue to go through the necessary parliamentary scrutiny over the coming weeks.

Next week all eyes will be on the June EU Council, where further progress is expected on the Withdrawal agreement. The CBI will continue to ensure negotiators on both sides are well equipped with the unequivocal economic facts for forthcoming discussions on outstanding withdrawal issues and the all-important future relationship.

For more information, insight and intelligence on the latest Brexit developments and its implications, visit the CBI’s Brexit hub, or contact EUNegotiations@cbi.org.uk.