Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

May urges business leaders to prepare for post-Brexit by investing more in research

Theresa May addressed the annual CBI annual conference in London. Credit: PA

Theresa May has urged business leaders to step up funding for research and investment to help the future of the UK economy post-Brexit.

In a speech at the CBI's annual conference in London, the prime minister said UK businesses are falling short of rivals in the US and Germany in terms of investing money into developing new technology.

Mrs May said: "Today, for every £1 in Government support for R&D, British businesses invest £1.70.

"But in America, businesses invest around £2.70 and German businesses invest nearly £2.40."

"So I want you to work with us to drive up business investment,"she added.

Mrs May urged leaders to look to the future as 'rational optimists'. Credit: PA

Mrs May's address was preceded by CBI president Paul Drechsler who used his speech to criticise Cabinet disunity and the "soap opera" nature of the Brexit process.

Seeking to reassure business leaders about the government's approach to Brexit, Mrs May insisted progress was being made on securing a trade deal with an implementation period after the UK leaves the European Union.

"I have been determined to give business and industry as much certainty as possible," the prime minister said.

She added: "I know how important it is for business and industry not to face a cliff-edge and to have the time it needs to plan and prepare for the new arrangements.

"During this period our access to one another's markets should continue on current terms, and I want us to agree the detailed arrangements for this period as early as possible.

"But we should also be able to develop our relationships with countries outside the EU in new ways, including through our own trade negotiations."

Jeremy Corbyn said there was 'chaos and confusion' at the heart of government over Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the conference criticising what he said was the government's "sluggish response" to Brexit negotiations.

Mr Corbyn said a year on since he last addressed business leaders many feel no closer "to having the clarity about the direction of travel they desperately need".

He added: "Time is running out, we know as you do that firms are deciding now whether to continue to invest in the UK and that guarantees in key areas are needed now."

Mr Corbyn also said the UK needs a Brexit that puts" jobs and living standards first"

He also insisted that it is Labour that shares "common ground" with businesses in putting the needs of the economy "front and centre-stage".