17 October 2000
Farmers left high and dry on fuel
By FWi staff
THE Confederation of Business Industry has withdrawn from a group which farmers and hauliers hoped would persuade the government to reduce fuel taxes.
CBI officials were expected to join forces with the National Farmers Union and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) to call for urgent action on fuel.
But the CBI presidents committee has voted against the move, leaving NFU and FTA officials to prepare a joint submission to Chancellor Gordon Brown.
The withdrawal of the CBI, which bills itself as the voice of Britains businesses, is likely to ease the pressure on Mr Brown to reduce fuel taxes.
The organisation, whose members have over 6 million employees, is a powerful, heavyweight body respected by ministers.
A CBI spokesman said the decision to withdraw was made at the eleventh hour following a consultation with members late on Monday (16 October).
It was largely a tactical move which would “keep their powder dry”, he said.
The organisation would be unlikely to comment any further on fuel duties until the chancellor has delivered his pre-budget speech, he added.
Ironically, the NFU is a member of the CBI.
An NFU spokeswoman voiced disappointment about the withdrawal but said that the union would continue to press for a reduction in fuel taxes.