Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, Chief Executive and President of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), comments on the CBI’s speech on Brexit.
"We urgently need a more pragmatic approach to the Brexit negotiations and this timely proposal by the CBI is an attempt to provide just that. However, in our view, a customs’ union only goes some of the ways to solving the conundrum of delivering a Brexit which is both politically acceptable and economically responsible.
"A customs union by itself does not provide the assurances needed by our sector. Our industry needs continued unfettered access to skilled EU nationals and our recent research highlighted that a fifth of larger firms in our sector would consider moving staff abroad if that wasn’t the case. Equally, a customs union will do little for the 175,000 EU workers in construction whose jobs are at risk post-Brexit. All of this has huge knock-on effects on the delivery of key infrastructure across the country and on the economic stimulus that this provides.
"The political and economic consequences of Brexit are wide-ranging and complex and cannot be solved just by remaining in the customs union. For the UK to remain in the customs union but not a member of the EU would result in a considerable loss of influence in Brussels, with no corresponding economic gain.
"ACE supports a transition deal that will allow market access in the short-term while leading to a comprehensive and unique trade deal that allows for economic collaboration with both EU and Non-EU markets."