The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has been accused of scaremongering following the publication of its economic report on Brexit, described by critics as “thoughtless”, “purely political”, “self-interested” and “skewed”.
The CBI — the voice of pro-European Union (EU) big business — yesterday published its report claiming that if the UK were to leave the EU, by 2020 the British economy could lose up to £100 billion in economic output – the equivalent of around five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) – with a loss of up to 950,000 jobs. It is being launched today in a speech from CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn (pictured above).
The report’s analysis was produced for the CBI by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It concluded, while admitting “our estimates are subject to many uncertainties”, that Brexit would cause long-lasting economic damage from which the British economy would only ever partially recover, feeding the business lobby group’s narrative for rejecting Brexit in the upcoming EU referendum.
The report has, however, come under heavy fire from critics of the Project Fear-style warnings in it.
The organisation receives funds from the EU and has a long history of pro-EU advocacy, including telling the 190,000 businesses it claims to speak for to “turn up the volume” on the perceived benefits of EU membership. Conservative Member of Parliament and Brexit supporter David Davis slammed the CBI study, reports the Daily Mail, saying:
“These are the same people who recommended that Britain joined the euro.
“All these years later, after we have witnessed the devastation in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, we should learn the obvious lesson, which is to give no credibility to the CBI’s thoughtless and self-interested predictions.”
Mark Reckless, the UKIP Economics spokesman and former MP, hit out at the “purely political” study, pointing out the underlying assumptions of the report were based on outdated growth forecasts. He said:
“From that basic flaw it is clear that PwC’s many other assumptions therefore lack credibility, as does their report and its conclusions.
“It must also be remembered that both the CBI and PwC are in receipt of huge funding from the EU, in the case of CBI this amounts to many, many millions stretching back decades. Hardly honest brokers in the whole debate surrounding the Referendum.
“The CBI and PwC are naturally supportive of the EU, which through a never-ending supply of cheap unskilled imported labour keeps wages low and profits high, as was so tellingly revealed by Lord Rose the boss of the In campaign.”.”
Brian Monteith of Brexit campaign group Leave.EU commented:
“Anything said by the CBI in the EU referendum campaign has to be judged in the context that it receives funds from the EU and is a voice for many Government agencies that are not true businesses, as well as corporations that have a vested interest in the UK’s membership of the EU.
“The CBI would be better using its members’ funds to work on how it will help British businesses take advantage of Brexit rather than parrot the usual scaremongering of Project Fear emanating from Downing Street.”