Tesco chair to get nod for CBI presidency

Tesco’s chairman will this week be nominated as the next head of Britain’s biggest employers’ group, with a mandate to help steer it through the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU). 

Sky News has learnt that a meeting of the CBI’s chairs’ committee, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, is expected to formally propose John Allan as the lobbying group’s next president.

If ratified by CBI members at its annual meeting in June, Mr Allan would take over from Paul Drechsler for a two-year term expiring in the summer of 2020.

The Tesco chairman, who also chairs housebuilder Barratt Developments‎, became the CBI’s vice-president last year.

London First, the capital’s business lobbying group, is in the process of identifying Mr Allan’s successor as its chairman.

Sources said that Mr Drechsler is expected to revert to the CBI’s vice-presidency when Mr Allan takes over, re-establishing the organisation’s traditional governance structure.

Mr Drechsler is serving an unprecedented third year at the business lobby group, arranged last year as the CBI sought to ensure a degree of continuity through the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.

The CBI has consistently opposed the UK’s departure from the EU, but is not seeking a second referendum, instead focusing its efforts on avoiding a hard Brexit.

Last week, Carolyn Fairbairn, its director-general, called the transition deal agreed between Britain and the EU27 “a victory for common sense that will help protect living standards, jobs and growth”.

However, she warned that a continued willingness to compromise was essential, “as tough choices lie ahead on the route to a final deal”.

The‎ CBI, which has 190,000 members encompassing businesses of all sizes, found itself at the centre of a political storm when it lobbied strongly in favour of the Remain campaign.

Its domestic agenda is also critically important to its membership, however, with CBI executives recently urging radical reform of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy.

The CBI declined to comment on Sunday.


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