Addressing the annual CBI conference today, Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated that she is “determined” to deliver the Brexit deal and her response was greeted with a huge applause from the packed room.
“It was never going to be easy or straightforward. And the final stage was always going to be the toughest. But let no one be in any doubt … I am determined to deliver it,” May said.
"Let no one be in any doubt… I am determined to deliver it!"@theresa_may finishes her speech at the CBI conference in London to a round of applause 👏
— Sky News Politics (@SkyNewsPolitics) November 19, 2018
The Prime minister also said that the Brexit agreement is a “breakthrough” but it is not the “final deal”. As regards migration, May added that it would become skills-based, with Europeans no longer prioritised over “engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi”.
May also clarified about the option to extend the transition within the withdrawal agreement. However, she added: “I do not want that to come into play, I want the future relationship in place. It is important we are out of the transition period before the next election.
CBI’s director general Carolyn Fairburn has also responded to Theresa May’s speech.
.@theresa_may opened door for enterprise & govt to work together & build a fairer & more competitive UK. Getting the Brexit deal will dominate coming weeks but we can’t lose sight domestic agenda. At the heart of that is people. We need focus on jobs, skills & investment #CBI2018 https://t.co/leKDwKWbXt
— Carolyn Fairbairn (@cbicarolyn) November 19, 2018
Fairburn said the PM has “opened the door for enterprise and government to work together and build and fairer and more competitive UK”. The best way to build confidence on immigration is with a system “based on contribution, not numbers”, she added.
Calling for a focus on jobs, skills and investment, she said business needs frictionless trade and a “transition period that draws us back from the cliff edge”. “Anything less than that and jobs and investment could suffer”.
Pound, which was trading higher in anticipation of the PM’s speech, lost some ground and was down 0.3 per cent. This was after May said she wanted any post-Brexit transition phase to have ended by the time the country is due to hold a national election in 2022.
The pound is now trading at $1.28 against the dollar.
Simon Harvey, FX Analyst at Monex Europe, also commented: “May stands strong and stable at the CBI annual conference, but sterling remains unconvinced as the wild card of a vote-of-no-confidence remains on the table.
“Sterling has struggled to maintain a weak rally this morning in light of a slow news flow over the weekend. Tentative optimism has poked its head above the parapet as the heat is turned down on May, but tensions still simmer in the background as Brexiteer MP’s try to put a number on the 48 letters needed to upend the Prime Minister. This has capped optimism in the pound, which has failed to return to the heights seen prior to Dominic Raab’s resignation, as the significant downside risk remains.
“The cautious nature of sterling’s rally this morning evidences the uncertainty that is faced in the coming weeks. Investors remain dubious to put their necks on the line in fear of being caught on the wrong side of the political news flow. Sterling’s direction remains in the hands of Graham Brady and whether the threat the pound is trading under is realised in the coming days.”