UK: Brexit Business Impact ‘Becoming Very Real’, Government is Warned

155
  • The Government must impact an industrial strategy after it has been warned that the impact of Brexit on business is becoming “very real”

THE impact of Brexit on business is becoming “very real”, making it more important that an industrial strategy is given priority, the Government is being warned.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said a new kind of strategy was needed, especially as more than a third of jobs might be displaced by automation and artificial intelligence in the coming years.

Ahead of the business group’s annual conference in London on Monday, its director general said uncertainty was continuing to affect the economy.

Caroline Fairbairn said: “We can’t afford to let Brexit distract from the long-term action that is so badly needed. What’s at stake is the UK’s future in a global economy redefined by artificial intelligence and automation. Brexit must not be allowed to crowd this out.”

She said that Government departments were facing “challenging” times preparing the UK for life outside the EU, while Brexit was becoming “very real” for firms.

A survey of 400 companies found most wanted a new industrial strategy to focus on transforming the UK’s skills base, modernising physical and digital infrastructure and accelerating innovation.

Uncertainty was taking its toll, with firms worried about the economic outlook and what post-Brexit trade will look like, said the CBI.

The organisation called for a new style of partnership between government and business, an independent industrial strategy office and a commission on artificial intelligence.

Ms Fairbairn said it was a time for unity, highlighting that speakers at the conference will include the Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.