New Business Group to Rival CBI Ahead of Crunch Vote

A new business lobby group has been formed, boasting some of the UK’s largest companies as its founding partners.┬áThe Business Council has been launched by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in a bid to “design and drive the future of the British economy”.

Heathrow, BP, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Drax are among its new members.

It comes as the troubled CBI faces a crunch vote on its future after it was mired in serious sexual allegations.

The CBI has been canvassing opinion from its existing members on a series of reforms, the result of which will be revealed at a key meeting on Tuesday. It has received the public backing of 13 companies – including manufacturing giant Siemens and the world’s largest computer software firm Microsoft ahead of the vote.

But the new group will be hoping to pick up the support of businesses that cut ties with the CBI – including household names such as John Lewis and BMW.

The BCC works to support and connect tens of thousands of companies in the UK and internationally and is known for putting out a quarterly economic survey.

BCC director general Shevaun Haviland and President Baroness Martha Lane Fox will join business leaders in London on Monday to discuss the work of its new council to represent the interests of UK firms.

“Over the past few months we have been talking to the nation’s largest corporates and it has become clear to us they are looking for a different kind of representation,” Ms Haviland said.

“These businesses want to be part of a framework that’s rooted in their local communities, but with the ability to shape the national and international debate,” she added.

Ms Haviland said the Business Council would focus on an initiative directed at the future of the economy targeting:

The new group will not know until Tuesday how much support its competitor will continue to receive but the CBI’s new director general Rain Newton-Smith has described the vote as “critical” to its future.

The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack said the timing of the announcement from the BCC was hard to ignore, saying the launch represented a “tussle for the trust of business and the ear of government”.

A CBI source said “the timing of this is very opportunistic. Business succeeds through a collaborative approach and we find that more effective”.

Over the weekend the Sunday Times newspaper reported that the CBI’s last director general Tony Danker was planning to sue his former employer, after he was forced out over the sexual misconduct allegations.

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