Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general told an audience at Warwick University on Monday: “There may come a day when the opportunity to fully set independent trade policies outweighs the value of a customs union with the EU; a day when investing in fast-growing economies elsewhere eclipses the value of frictionless trade in Europe. But that day hasn’t yet arrived.”
CBI insiders are said to be calling for the CBI to take a harder line and call for a second Brexit referendum. An internal report said: “Government has all the right objectives on customs but – thus far – no proposals have been set forward that can deliver. A customs union would require trade-offs on achieving an independent trade policy, but the benefits of such a policy are unproven.”
The comments from the CBI illicted a response from UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. He said on Twitter: “Staying in the customs union means effectively staying in the EU: the EU *is* a customs union. It means no new free trade deals, no new export opportunities, and no leading role in the WTO.“
The issue of a customs union and free movement of goods within the EU for UK businesses is the most vital concern for ecommerce businesses. And the nature of the Brexit deal will be of importance to any exporting retailers.