MPs urged to "find a Brexit deal that works for the North West" by CBI

Date published: 04 September 2019

Members of Parliament have been urged to find a Brexit deal that works for the North West, as the CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn has written to every MP in the region.

The letter is released as MPs go back to Westminster and re-start the Brexit debates in Parliament.

The CBI, which represents approximately 190,000 businesses across the UK, believes the message from the North West is clear: preparing for a no-deal is sensible, but it is vital that politicians dedicate as much effort to striking a deal as preparing for failure, as there is no such thing as a no-deal outcome without negative consequences for jobs and growth.

The CBI has also raised the alarm for small business, saying that while big businesses have spent millions preparing many smaller firms do not have the spare cash to try and mitigate the effects with so much Brexit uncertainty.

In the CBI’s assessment of the state of no-deal preparations by the UK, the EU and businesses in 27 key areas of the economy, it concludes that – despite existing mitigating actions – disruption is likely in 24 of these areas immediately following a no-deal outcome. In all 27 areas, negative impact is anticipated in either the short or long term.

In the letter to MPs, Dame Carolyn says: ‘Relative to the rest of the UK, the North West would fare worse in a no-deal scenario. Real GVA in North West – a measure of the value of goods and services produced in the region - could be £20 billion lower by 2034, compared to if the EU-UK relationship remained the same. This is more than more than double public spending on schools and education in the region.”

Finally, she references the recent Brexit round table and talks about the feedback from local businesses, she says: ‘Businesses across the UK have spent billions of pounds getting ready and continue to do everything they can to prepare for a no-deal.

“Firms across the North West have built new warehouses, stockpiled goods, hedged against currency fluctuation, trained staff in new customs procedures, and some have planned factory shutdowns at great expense​.

“But some practicalities cannot be avoided, and prepared is not the same as protected.

“Tariffs and additional customs costs, as well as rising import costs caused by currency depreciation, will hit British competitiveness in the long term. And in the short term, perishables and medicines cannot withstand extended unplanned delays at borders.

“Smaller firms do not have the resources to evaluate what a no-deal will mean for their business, and the majority have taken no action to mitigate the consequences.”


Tony Lloyd MP
Tony Lloyd MP

Commenting on the letter, Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd said: “The letter from the CBI is a very timely wake up call to everyone about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, and the impact this would have on industry and jobs, particularly here in the North West.

“Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, admits that food prices may increase after a no-deal Brexit. This comes on the back of warnings from independent groups, such as the British Retail Consortium, who stated that ‘it is categorically untrue that the supply of food would be unaffected under a no-deal Brexit’.”

“The Chair of the British Medical Association – the doctors’ trade union – tells us ‘Recent winters have seen unprecedented scenes unfold in our hospitals, GP surgeries and across the NHS’. Add to that chaos a no-deal Brexit and the disintegration of the health service becomes an ever more real prospect.

“Boris Johnson tells us all that he wants a deal, although he has scarcely spoken to political leaders in Brussels since he became Prime Minister, and nor has he put forward outlines of what that deal would be. Only the government can negotiate a deal, but it is clear that any deal would need the guarantee that there was no “no-deal” Brexit and no hard border across the island of Ireland, and that does mean that the so-called backstop would have to be part of that deal.

“That's why Labour will do everything it can do to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and that's why MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit must work together to prevent the very real damage the CBI outlines would happen to Rochdale and across the UK.”


Liz McInnes MP
Liz McInnes MP


Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes said: “The Labour Party is opposed to leaving the EU with no deal and I fully appreciate the impact of no deal on businesses here in the North West. Ever since the referendum result in 2016, I have respected that result and have done everything within my power to get a deal that works - for businesses, for workers, for our public services and for our national security.

“However, sadly for us, it is the Conservative government, not the Labour Party, who have been responsible for negotiations and the deal that they eventually arrived at was not fit for purpose. I was urged by a majority of my constituents to vote against this deal, and I did so.

“I fully agree with the CBI that a deal that works is what is needed. However, time is now running out.

“I will do everything in my power to prevent a catastrophic no deal and will resist all attempts by the Prime Minister to silence Parliament by the process of prorogation which he is currently proposing.”

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