Businesses warn Tory leadership hopefuls against no-deal

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Britain’s biggest business lobby group has written to all Conservative leadership candidates to warn against a no-deal Brexit.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Carolyn Fairbairn penned an open letter to those competing to be the next Tory leader and prime minister.

In a “clear message” to whoever might replace Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, Ms Fairbairn called for them to “champion business”.

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She told the Tory candidates it is “no secret” that businesses’ “frustration with Westminster has grown” over the last few years, as she delivered the CBI’s caution against leaving the EU without a divorce deal.

A number of Conservative hopefuls have declared they would take the UK out of the EU – with or without a deal – at the end of the extended Article 50 period on 31 October.

But Ms Fairbairn wrote: “Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward.

“Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one.

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“The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.

“We need compromise, consensus and honesty to resolve the Brexit impasse, quickly.

“Prolonged uncertainty is damaging our economy now – driving up costs and reducing sales.

“Stockpiling of raw materials and goods among SMEs is at a record high.

“Billions of pounds in investment are being diverted from the economy, harming future jobs and prosperity.”

The number of Conservative candidates currently stands at 12 following former Tory chief whip Mark Harper’s entry into the race.

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