By Jonathan Davies
Business secretary Sajid Javid last night overshadowed the appointment of the CBI's new director general with an attack on the business lobby group's stance on the EU referendum.
The CBI has made it clear that its 200,000 strong business membership and the organisation itself wants the UK to remain part of the EU.
But the new business secretary said the CBI is committed to the EU, even if Prime Minister David Cameron cannot renegotiate the country's membership.
“You know how negotiation works. You wouldn’t sit down at the start of a merger or acquisition and, like a poker player showing his hand to the table, announce exactly what terms you were prepared to accept,” said Mr Javid. “It doesn’t work in the boardroom and it won’t work in Brussels.”
A CBI spokesperson said: “Most CBI members are clear that the EU gives us access to 500 million consumers and helps set the global trade agenda.
“But reform must be an ongoing process and we support the government’s push for Brussels to focus on the big ticket issues, like signing more trade deals and doing less where it doesn’t add value.”
Mr Javid launched the criticism just hours after the CBI appointed former BBC and ITV director of strategy, Carolyn Fairbairn, as new director general. Ms Fairbairn will take over from John Cridland in November.
Before Mr Javid's speech, the CBI said that Ms Fairbairn supported the case for the UK to remain part of a reformed EU.