New business group launched to rival CBI ahead of key vote

The embattled CBI business lobby group faces another threat – this time in the form of rival business group and challenger the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The group has founded a new lobbying body, the Business Council, with some of the UK’s biggest businesses.

Founding members of the new body include Heathrow Airport, oil and gas company BP and IHG Hotels & Resorts.

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Business leaders are meeting in London on Monday to discuss the the Business Council’s offering along with BCC director general Shevaun Haviland and BCC president Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

Ms Haviland said it has become clear the nation’s largest companies “are looking for a different kind of representation”.

She said the Business Council will focus on digital revolution, people and work, net zero, global Britain and the high street, ahead of a likely general election next year.

“These challenges will form the backdrop to the next general election, which we know will come before the end of next year, and which everyone in Westminster is already gearing up for,” she said.

“The voice of business needs to be heard loud and clear, and now is the right time for us to speak up.”

The CBI lost support of many of its high profile supporters, including insurance giant Aviva and the John Lewis Partnership, after claims of serious sexual assault were made by CBI employees against colleagues.

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CBI confidence vote ‘a very important moment’

The Royal Charter-bearing organisation is fighting for its future. An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) takes place on Tuesday and members, including those who suspended their memberships, have been voting on the future of the organisation.

Both opposition and government politicians said they will not interact with the CBI while a police investigation into the allegations takes place. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said there is “no point” in talking to the CBI while it deals with the claims.

The CBI has support from the German technology giant Siemens, and is understood to have the backing of Microsoft and others.

In response to the establishment of the Business Council, the CBI said: “the timing of this is very opportunistic. Business succeeds through a collaborative approach and we find that more effective”.

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