Brexit critic who said EU referendum should ‘NEVER have happened’ lined up for top CBI job

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Lord Bilimoria, who founded Cobra beer and backs Britain holding a second European Union referendum, will be standing for election as the next vice-president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Paul Drechsler CBE is due to stand down from the position next month as his term comes to an end. If successful in taking over, this would put Lord Bilimoria next in line to take over from current CBI president John Allan, the Tesco chairman whose two-year term comes to an end in 2020. Lord Bilimoria is a British-Indian entrepreneur and a member of Business for a People’s Vote who has been vocal of his opposition to Brexit.

Back in 2017, the cross-bench peer claimed the EU referendum should “never have happened” adding that it was “ridiculous” to allow the British public to vote on an issue that is “so complicated”.

Speaking on LBC Radio, he said at the time: “I don’t want this country not to be at the top table of the world.

“At the moment we’re the laughing stock of the world, we’re the laughing stock of Europe.”

Just two months ago, Lord Bilimoria called for a second referendum, when he asked in the House of Commons: “Why is our country doing this?

“We deserve to take back to control and ironically the best way to take back control is to remain in the European Union.”

If confirmed for the role, Lord Bilimoria would be the first ethnic minority president of the CBI, which speaks for 190,000 businesses in the UK.

He is expected to remain in charge of Cobra, the beer company which he founded from his south-west London flat in 1989.

The businessman is also a chancellor of The University of Birmingham.

Confirming the news of Lord Bilimoria standing in election, the CBI said in a statement: “Lord Karan Bilimoria will stand for election as the new CBI vice-president at its AGM on 18 June 2019.

“Paul Drechsler CBE will step down on that date as his term as Vice President comes to an end.”

The statement continued: “Historically, an incoming vice-president has proceeded to stand for the role of CBI president and the outgoing president has stood for a final one-year term as vice-president.

“It is a practice that is replicated across the UK within the CBI’s Regional Council structure.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “We’re delighted that Lord Bilimoria has been nominated to stand for election as CBI vice-president.

“Lord Bilamoria has had a remarkable career in British business, during which he has built a deep understanding what it takes to build a successful company.

“At such a critical time for the country, Lord Bilimoria’s wealth of experience will prove invaluable to the CBI and the UK business community.”

The CBI will vote on the nomination of Lord Bilamoria at an annual meeting on June 18, 2019.

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