The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a lobby group that presents tens of thousand of companies, has been criticised for opting out of a Government scheme put in place to help businesses prepare for a no deal Brexit. Tory MP Steve Baker, the former no deal planning minister, described the body as “woeful” for neglecting to participate in the scheme. Another MP suggested the group wasn’t looking after the interests of its members, for not applying for a piece of the £15million funding offered to representative bodies.
The CBI, which described itself as the “voice of business” has defended the move and said it has been carrying out its own work to help prepare its members for a no deal scenario.
But Mr Baker, who chairs the European Research Group – the Brexiteer wing of the Tory party, described the group as “woeful” for not applying for the funding and even suggested it may be exposed for “incompetence” if the UK does leave the EU without a deal.
He told the Telegraph: “I’m delighted by the implication that the woeful CBI is fully ready.
“Or about to be exposed for incompetence. Again.”
Suella Braverman, another former Brexit minister, said: “The CBI has been incredibly vocal on its views about Brexit so I’m stunned that it hasn’t taken up the opportunity afforded by government to better equip itself and its members as we leave the EU.
“I would encourage the CBI to engage with the Government so as to better support its members.”
John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, also hit out at the decision to snub the funding to brief firms on how to prepare for an October 31 departure.
He said: “The CBI have been at the forefront of those warning of the dire consequences of leaving without a deal and yet are doing little to mitigate them.
The grants are due to be awarded this week, with other groups such as the British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Institute of Directors, all opting in for a share of the funding.
The FSB had welcomed the funding, saying it was “mission critical to the economy that they have the information they need, to prepare for Brexit.”
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said it would fund events, training and advice for firms, providing any activities were open to both members and non-members, and carried out by October 31.
Announcing the grants in August, Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, said: “We know that companies often rely on the wider business community for help and advice with planning.
“Business groups will now be given the necessary tools to engage with this crucial task, communicating with non-members and businesses of all sizes.”
A CBI spokesman said: “The CBI has been helping its members prepare for a potential no deal exit from the EU for many months.
“We’re now making our Brexit preparedness guidance and publications available for all UK businesses, not just members.
“This is something the CBI is doing by itself as the quickest way of sharing information with businesses of all sizes and sectors affected.
“Getting a deal, one that passes Parliament, is acceptable to the EU and protects the UK economy remains urgent.”
Published at Sun, 06 Oct 2019 17:11:00 +0000