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CBI report says costs of leaving EU for British businesses will “vastly outweigh” any benefits

Agriculture was one of the sectors which the CBI report said could benefit from distance from EU rules. Picture: Ian Burt

Agriculture was one of the sectors which the CBI report said could benefit from distance from EU rules. Picture: Ian Burt

Any benefits which key sectors of the UK economy could reap from leaving the European Union will be overshadowed by the costs, a new report claims.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Smooth Operations report seeks to inform Brexit negotiations by outlining where British businesses want to stay close to EU rules and where they want to break away.

However, it says opportunities for divergence in industries like agriculture and tourism – both important to the East Anglian economy – are “vastly outweighed” by the costs of deviating from rules necessary to ensure smooth access to the EU, the UK’s largest trading partner.

The report covers 23 sectors including life sciences and creative industries, in which the East of England is said to have particular strength.

The report’s foreword, from CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, says UK living standards and opportunity “will only be protected if evidence is put ahead of ideology”.

She added that lawmakers must ensure “ongoing convergence” as well as alignment in rules which are “fundamental” to the trade or transport of goods between the UK and EU.

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