THE CBI (Confederation for British Industry) has called for “binding Brexit transition terms” to be thrashed out by the end of the first quarter to protect jobs and investment in the UK, writes Scott Wright.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general, urged politicians to provide “unity, clarity and certainty, not a different opinion every day” as she set out the group’s New Year priorities for 2018.

Her message comes after a year during which Ms Fairbairn said the impact of uncertainty has “taken its toll”, citing slowing economic growth, faltering business investment and the impact on living standards from surging inflation as the UK felt the fall-out from the Brexit process.

She noted that 2017 did end with “some good Brexit news” when the EU Council signalled in mid-December that trade talks could begin after a “status quo transition” was agreed in principle. But, looking to 2018, Ms Fairbairn said: “Even harder work lies ahead. To keep jobs and investment in the UK, binding Brexit terms by the end of the first quarter need to be accompanied by progress on a framework for a final deal that delivers barrier free trade with the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses has called on the UK Government to end the late payment culture it says devastates thousands of firms every year at the top of its domestic agenda for 2018.