CBI chief slaps down Sajid Javid over call to abandon customs union with EU

Posted On: 
23rd April 2018

The head of the Confederation for British Industry has hit out at Sajid Javid after he insisted Britain must quit the customs union after Brexit.

Sajid Javid's tweet sparked a response from Paul Dreschler
Credit: 
PA Images

Communities Secretary Mr Javid said the trade area was an “intrinsic” part of the European Union that voters had given “clear instructions” to pull out of when they voted Leave in 2016.

His comment came as the House of Commons prepares to vote later this week on cross-party calls for the UK to stay in some form of customs union even after it quits the EU.

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The House of Lords also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a customs union last week.

Downing Street last night reiterated to the BBC that Britain would neither be part of the EU customs union or another form of the tariff-free trading area.

However CBI president Paul Dreschler directly responded to Mr Javid, saying he should “rise above ideology” and support a customs union.

The CBI, which represents hundreds of thousands of UK businesses has openly supported remaining in a customs union, with director general Carolyn Fairbairn saying it offers a “practical, real-world answer” on the Irish border and would protect jobs, wages and living standards.

Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP and supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said Mr Dreschler’s response was a “damning indictment” of ministers’ “destructive policy”.

“Businesses know that crashing out of the Customs Union will be a catastrophe for jobs and employment in this country, but the Government seems determined to drive us off the cliff regardless,” he said.

“With Brexit looking increasingly like a dangerous threat to jobs and the economy in this country, the people have a right to make their voices heard with a People's Vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal.”