The UK’s leading business group has called for the government to hold COVID-style emergency summits to deal with the cost of living crisis and threats to the economy.
Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), called for the implementation of Cobra meetings: summits that are usually held to deal with major crises. They were notably held during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
It follows a forecast that the UK economy will stagnate next year to become the slowest-growing of the G7 nations, with Danker saying it can’t be “business as usual” waiting for annual budgets.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, he effectively accused Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party of navel-gazing amid MPs’ ongoing rowing over the prime minister’s leadership, with Johnson surviving a vote of confidence this week.
Praising the government’s response to the pandemic, he said: “I don’t think we need a great national crisis to start behaving in the way the government behaved during the pandemic.
"The government really did exert grit. They got a team of external advisers, it had daily/weekly meetings in the Cobra room. It took very quick decisions, it got things moving.
“That’s the kind of behaviour we need from the government now.
“Business as usual - let’s have a budget in November, let’s keep having a debate among the Conservative Party about what’s the right way to do taxes, should we get harder on Brexit - that stuff doesn’t help.
“We need to put the events of last week [the confidence vote] behind us and we need to have a prime minister and a chancellor co-chairing meetings, bringing all the government together and making these decisions quickly rather than waiting for budgets... ensuring confidence stabilises and we avoid recession.”
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He added: “We need to elevate the status of the economy in the political discourse.”
On Wednesday, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) think tank said the UK’s economy will be the slowest growing of the G7 nations next year, having been second fastest this year.
The CBI has said it believes inflation is expected to remain high into the autumn, rising to 8.7% in October, leading to a “historic squeeze” in household incomes, which will hit consumer spending.