November 19, 2018 / 11:03 AM / 24 days ago

UK business warns politicians - Don't trip us into no deal Brexit chaos

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) attends the Confederation of British Industry's annual conference in London, Britain November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - British politicians are engaged in a high-stakes game of risk over Brexit which could lead to an accidental no deal, the head of Britain’s main business lobby, the CBI, said on Monday.

“While other countries are forging a competitive future, our nerve centre here, Westminster, seems to be living in its own narrow world,” said Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn.

“It seems to be playing a high-stakes game of risk, where the outcome could be an accidental no-deal. Surely, surely, we can do better than this.”

The comments came at the CBI’s annual conference, at which Prime Minister Theresa May will also speak, attempting to convince businesses to back the draft Brexit agreement she has reached with Brussels.

CBI President John Allan said the deal was imperfect, but a step forward because the political turmoil - and the risk that Britain could leave the bloc without any formal deal - was already damaging investment into the economy.

“Companies in this room would be the first to say that it is not perfect, but it opens a route to a long-term trade arrangement, it unlocks the transition period – the very least that companies need to prepare for Brexit,” he said.

“More important even than either of those, is that it avoids the nightmare scenarios a no-deal departure, which would be a wrecking ball for our economy.”

(The story corrects name of CBI president)

Reporting by William James; writing by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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