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The costs of Brexit are already mounting before the U.K. has even left the European Union, the country’s biggest business lobby group said.
“There is the direct cost of what businesses are having to put into their businesses and their supply chains to protect themselves” from the impact of Brexit, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in an interview at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. “The other cost, which is less easy to see, is the investment that hasn’t happened as a result of Brexit uncertainty.”
There’s also a danger that Brexit sucks the energy of government away from big domestic priorities such as infrastructure, digital connectivity and training, according to Fairbairn’s counterpart at the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall. The government must focus on another runway at London’s Heathrow airport and push ahead with projects to build high-speed rail and improve broadband and mobile connectivity, he said.
“The biggest risk to the future of the United Kingdom is that we stagger exhausted over the Brexit finish line, but we haven’t put in place the steps to ensure that we’re competitive here at home,’’ Marshall said in an interview. He called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to be “radical” in his budget, due at the end of the month, to ensure he attracts business investment.
“Investors in boardrooms across the world asking very serious questions about whether the U.K. is a place where they can reliably place their money,” Marshall said. Hammond “should be trying to help those companies who are wavering here at home, or those companies overseas who are considering their position, to crowd all of them in and get them to commit to those investments in the United Kingdom.’’
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