JCB, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers, has quit the CBI because of the lobby group’s anti-Brexit position.
The construction equipment company, which employs about 6,000 people in Britain, ended its membership of the CBI following historic vote to leave the EU, said a person briefed on the matter.
The person said the decision, first reported by Sky News, was because of the business organisation’s Remain stance ahead of the referendum.
A CBI spokesman said: “It’s always a shame to see any member leave the CBI, but we recognise that businesses have competing priorities and we respect that.”
A JCB spokesman said: “I can confirm that JCB is ending its membership of the CBI.”
During the campaign, the CBI warned that withdrawal from the bloc would cause a “serious economic shock”, potentially costing the country £100bn and almost one million jobs by 2020.
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Brexit supporters accused their opponents of scaremongering and used the term “project fear” to describe their tactics.
The CBI’s director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, this week said that Prime Minister Theresa May’s lurch towards a “hard” Brexit — involving complete withdrawal from the European single market — risked Britain’s open economy.
Famous for its yellow diggers, JCB is one of Britain’s biggest privately owned companies, with 11 factories in the country and other plants in North America, India, China and Brazil.
The apparent reason behind the Staffordshire-based manufacturer’s decision to leave the CBI should come as little surprise, however.
Its chairman, Lord Anthony Bamford, was a public supporter of the “Leave” side and the company made a payment of £100,000 to the campaign. In a letter to employees ahead of the ballot, the peer wrote “that JCB and the UK can prosper just as much outside the EU”.
“I voted to stay in the Common Market in 1975. I did not vote for a political union,” the letter said.
In 2000, the European Commission fined JCB €39.6m for antitrust breaches. This centred on the company’s strategy of preventing consumers in one EU country buying its machinery more cheaply from an authorised dealer in another member state.
The company declared itself “very frustrated” after losing a six-year legal battle against the fine.
Tough conditions in emerging markets saw JCB’s sales drop nearly 7 per cent to £2.34bn in 2015. Adjusted earnings, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell almost 30 per cent to £214m.
In a sign of how China’s economic slowdown has taken a toll on global construction market, JCB announced 400 job cuts in the UK just over a year ago.