U.K. Business Chief Says New Premier Must Restore Confidence

Alex Morales

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor must move beyond Brexit to restore economic confidence and spur investment, the Confederation of British Industry said as it launched a “business manifesto” for the new government.

Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will be named May’s successor on Tuesday and take office a day later, and both have pledged to seek a new Brexit deal. The new leader will inherit an economy with sluggish growth and flagging investment amid the uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union.

“We urge the next prime minister to act fast to get the economy back on track,” CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said in a statement. “The reputation of our country has taken a dent in recent times. Our new prime minister has a real chance to inject a new lease of life into the U.K. economy and show the world we are open for investment.”

While Johnson, the favorite, has said the U.K. must leave the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die,” even if that means without a deal, Hunt has signaled he would be prepared to delay Brexit if a deal is in sight. Fairbairn said a no-deal departure “will be seriously damaging.”

The CBI’s demands include increased training in digital skills, stepping up spending on research and development, and a “clear commitment” to large infrastructure projects. These include the expansion of Heathrow Airport and the HS2, Northern rail and Crossrail 2 railway projects. The group also said the U.K. should aim to spend 1.2% of gross domestic product on infrastructure.

“We need a long-term, compelling vision for our future,” said Fairbairn.

Other requests include:

Reforms to business rates and the national apprenticeships programAbolishing the government target on net migration and reducing the salary threshold for immigrants taking up key jobs. Improving energy efficiency and tightening building standards to help Britain meet it’s target to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.Urgently securing continuity trade deals with nations it currently deals with through EU-brokered agreements and reinforcing a commitment to raise research and development expenditure to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, James Amott

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.