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Make tough choices on Brexit and immigration to boost growth, says CBI

The CBI will tell politicians to make tough choices in order to drive growth (Victoria Jones/PA)
The CBI will tell politicians to make tough choices in order to drive growth (Victoria Jones/PA)

End arguments over Brexit and use immigration to solve worker shortages in a bid to boost growth, the CBI chief is set to tell politicians on Monday.

In his speech at the CBI annual conference 2022 in Birmingham, director general Tony Danker is expected to praise some of the “incredibly welcome” announcements in last week’s autumn statement while also warning the UK must go further in order to solve years of stagnating growth.

Senior politicians are expected to attend the business body’s two-day conference, which comes only days after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled £25 billion of tax rises in a budget designed to restore market confidence in the UK after Liz Truss’s own disastrous mini-budget.

The pivot from massive tax cuts to steep tax rises has been criticised by some on the Tory backbenches, raising speculation of a rebellion by MPs over some of the measures.

With the UK forecast to be already in recession, Mr Danker will tell the conference: “The painful reality about growth is that it can’t be stimulated overnight. That’s what the mini-budget got wrong.

“Across-the-board tax cuts. Immediate demand stimulus. Relying on the old British strength − consumption − at the expense of the perennial British weakness − investment − has given growth a bad name.”

Praising Mr Hunt for “staying the course” on projects designed to generate growth, such as HS2 rail and the new nuclear power plant at Sizewell C, the CBI boss will also offer the Government various solutions to boost the flagging economy.

Pointing to ongoing “barriers” to growth, Mr Danker will call on politicians to be “practical” about immigration.

“Let’s have economic migration in areas where we aren’t going to get the people and skills at home any time soon. In return, let’s make those visas fixed term.”

He will also urge reform of regulations and red tape, telling the audience: “I know that some Conservative politicians today feel that this issue is the fault of Europe. But the biggest regulatory barriers facing businesses today are based on British laws, created by a British parliament, and administered by British regulators.”

Mr Danker is also expected to flag concerns over Brexit, namely the as-yet unresolved row with the EU about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Boris Johnson achieved a deal with the EU that allows us to continue to trade tariff and quota free with our biggest trading partner. There’s some good stuff in there. Currently locked up.

“But, still, we argue over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Still, we argue over sovereignty. Get round the table, do the deal, unlock the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. I say to Brexiteers, the best guarantor of Brexit is an economy that grows.

“Its biggest risk is one that doesn’t.

“Now I know that some of these things will not be popular with politicians. But while, I have no problem with Government taking tough choices to bring stability, I want them to also take tough choices for growth. ”