CBI president speaks out on his concerns over Brexit
The Irish-born President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has made it clear that he feels Britain should vote to stay in the European Union on June 23.
Paul Drechsler, the head of Britain’s largest business lobby, believes a decision to leave the EU could blow a £100 billion hole in the UK economy.
He feels it could also result in the loss of 950,000 jobs by 2020 and damage direct foreign investment to the country.
“Membership affords the UK tariff-free access to more than 500 million consumers – the most valuable market in the world,” Mr Drechsler said in an interview with The Irish Times.
“How long will it take to renegotiate the 53 trade deals Britain enjoys as a member of the EU? Switzerland took 15 years to negotiate theirs.”
The CBI chief has criticised the ‘Leave’ campaign of not having a credible answer to the problem of diminished foreign input, claiming they “have no plan B”.
He has also done his research to build up a compelling case on why Britain is far better off inside the Union.
“If rock-solid economic growth is unexciting, then yes, it’s unexciting to remain,” he explained.
“Our story is, to a great extent, ‘let’s build on 40 years of success and have a stronger future.
“It’s not about headline-grabbing; the facts are that if you want growth, if you want jobs, if you want investment then stay.”
In 1973, when Britain entered the EU, its GDP per capita was growing at half the rate it was in West Germany, France and Italy.
In the subsequent 43 years, its GDP grew significantly faster than the other three – on current rates; it will be the biggest economy in Europe.
According to the CBI, British households are £3,000 better off as a result of EU membership.
Speaking of Ireland, Mr Drechsler is clear that Brexit would harm the country of his birth.
“If the UK sneezes, Ireland catches a cold. It’s difficult to see – given over €1 billion a week of trade, given the sheer amount of Irish exports into the UK – how an economic slowdown in Britain would not have a negative impact on Ireland,” he said.
And he added that Northern Ireland would be an ever greater victim of such a decision.
He asked: “Who is going to invest in a Northern Ireland that is not a gateway to the EU?”