No-deal Brexit 'can't be managed': UK business chief

London (AFP) –


A no-deal Brexit "cannot be managed", is "certainly not desirable" and "the economic consequences would be profound, widespread and lasting", the head of Britain's main business lobby group said Friday.

Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the Confederation of British Industry, used a speech to call also on the government to immediately set out a plan to avert a no-deal Brexit and protect jobs should parliament on Tuesday vote against its Brexit deal agreed with Brussels.

"Make no mistake, no-deal cannot be 'managed'," Fairbairn told bosses gathered in Bristol, southwest England.

She said that the UK's economy could shrink by up to 8.0 percent, resulting in less money for the country's public services.

"Businesses would face new costs and tariffs. Our ports would be disrupted, separating firms from the parts they need to supply their customers."

She added: "Trade deals with countries like Japan, South Korea and Turkey would be lost."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said he hoped Britain would avoid crashing out of the European Union without an agreement, as he threw his support behind the government's contentious Brexit deal days before a vote by MPs.

Flanked by British Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to London, Abe said Japanese businesses "very much welcomed" her draft divorce deal.

But British MPs are widely expected to reject it amid fierce opposition -- in particular over future guarantees on the Irish border.

Speaking Friday, Fairbairn said "if parliament can't agree then it is for the government immediately to set out what it will do to avert a no-deal exit, and to guarantee this.

"If the government does choose this path, we have the chance finally to move beyond the all-consuming obsessions of Brexit.

"To start to heal the divisions that have left communities separated and investors questioning the UK as a business destination," she said.

Fairbairn also spoke out over post-Brexit immigration controls.

"Any hasty attempt to cut their numbers would not only harm business, but harm our country," she said.

"So it's up to us -- the business owners, leaders and managers -- to explain how overseas workers bring skill, innovation, and enterprise."

Britain is yet to unveil detailed proposals on immigration for EU nationals arriving after the country's planned departure on March 29.